The main reason individuals or companies create documents is for them to be read. If a company’s staff handbook, contracts, terms and conditions are poorly formatted, it can be difficult to find what you are looking for. It is essential important documents are clear and concise. When it comes to formatting, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’. Different types of documents that require formatting will have different requirements.
Here are a few points to consider.
Most, if not all businesses, will have some sort of branding; logo, colours. These need to be consistent as it promotes recognition, helps to set you apart from your competitor, it’s your own mark in the business world and needs to be reflected across all your documents.
We now have a huge range of fonts at our disposal. Examples of some popular fonts are Times New Roman and Courier. Some companies will have their own standard font, some won’t. Using the correct font for your business is essential. For example, Monotype Corsiva may be used for wedding stationery but won’t be suitable for a legal firm. Ensuring your styles and fonts are consistent will streamline your document. Styles play a big part when including a table of contents too.
Images in documents are useful and helps the reader to visualise what they are reading. If you are reading a budget report, a graph will quickly allow your brain to understand what that part of the report is telling you instead of an explanation in text only.
Using the appropriate line spacing greatly affects how readable a document is. Reading a document where the lines are condensed together makes it hard on the eyes and quite unpleasant to read. In documents, such as staff handbooks, the line spacing needs to be adequate.
If your document requires numbers, they have to be correct and consistent. It’s a very clear way to organise your document into sections. Also, if you look at the table of contents, this will display what section of the document you are particularly interested in and the reader can jump to that section instead of sifting through the whole document. For example, if the reader is reading point 6.1 and refers to point 4.2, the reader can jump to point 4.2.
If your document is online, hyperlinks (like numbering) is a very efficient way of referring to different sections of the document or even external links. For example, an external link to online forms, a section to the company intranet or even to an online news article. This is a great way for the reader to save time as they will immediately be taken to the section of interest.
If you find formatting your document is taking more time than you have, please get in touch.