Basic Documents Formatting Dos and Don’ts

document formattingWhen you’re working with digital files, you can have a great amount of influence over the end product. Sometimes people can feel limited by their computer, but the truth is that working in a digital medium often makes it simpler to create complex designs.

Whether you’re creating a detailed letter head or a straightforward and formal letter, formatting is an incredibly important tool. From the reader’s first impressions to their final interactions with your piece, the quality of the entire experience can depend hugely upon the formatting.

Here, we consider a few basic dos and don’ts.

Know how your article will be received

It’s important to recognize that your audience won’t always be viewing the piece you create in the same way that you do. You need to know whether they will be seeing the final product in print, in a web browser or using some form of office software.

If they are using office software, you must ensure that the file type you use is the correct one. If you’re expecting it to be viewed within a browser, be sure to allow your piece to be manipulated in such a way that it is just as effective on any size screen. This may mean looking at the time of website design you have or simply making adjustments to your article to ensure it is compatible with a range of different viewing methods.

Make sure that you consider things such as the use of symbols and foreign characters in your writing. If the loading system isn’t set-up to recognize these then they may appear as random punctuation or question marks in your published article – not a good look!

Be consistent

The ease with which you can make changes when working with digital tools can encourage some users to parade their skills all too often. While there is sometimes call for fancy styles, fonts and colors, the key is to be consistent with the tools that you use.

However excellent the fonts you choose to use, try your best to stick to just one or two per piece. Overcrowding a piece of work can have the effect of detracting from each individual style so make sure you keep it simple and keep it consistent.

You will also want to choose a format and font which is easy to read in order to cater to your audience. Script fonts may look pretty but they’re hard to read – especially if you’re dealing with large bodies of text.

Try and restrict the use of fancier fonts to short phrases or messages (perhaps the greeting on your webpage or a ‘thank-you for reading’ message at the end of a post). You should then stick with basic fonts such as Ariel, Calibri and Microsoft Sans Serif for the main article.

Get to grips with your software

Whether you’re dealing with 3D CAD Design or an Integrated Development Environment, having a good understanding of the software can make formatting a great deal easier. Of course, formatting a piece isn’t only about making wise creative decisions – it’s also a question of understanding how best to implement the various decisions that you make.

Working hard to ensure that you know the ins and outs of a piece of software is a great way to ensure that you can get the most from it so it’s important that you do your research and understand all the different features which are at your disposal. After all, if you don’t understand them then you can’t use them.

The design tools are out there, it’s up to you to harness them to create the product of your dreams.

Image credit: Flickr


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