The first area that I would like to address is the usual white space. The white space is simply the amount of paper that you see as opposed to the amount of text you see on the paper. A good test to see how much white space is used is to ‘print preview’ the document and set the percentage to about 25% or so. In other words, you will see the document on the screen but you won’t be able to read the words. This way, you will get a good feel for how much black there is against the white. Less text, more white, is easier to read and more likely that it will get read in its entirety.
The second thing is the 2B’s, “Bullets and Bolds.” These are my favorite emphasis tools which draw the reader’s eyes to them. Use them sparingly, but if choosing between bullets and bolds or different colors and different font, choose bullets and bolds. Otherwise, your document becomes too busy and distracting. And that brings me to the issue of colors and font.
Color and font is something that you want to snap-off the page. Do not write full sentences in red or in blue. With the keywords, draw your reader’s eyes to them. Do not use too many colors, maybe an additional one besides the black.
Font is another one. Keep the font simple, something that is easy to read, a Serif type font like Times Roman is easier on the eye and has a better flow than something that is a non-Serif font like Arial. It is shown in studies to be an easier font to read. So keep those simple and use then sparingly.
And another good tip is to break a document in mid-sentence. A document that is going on more than one page should not end on a period at the end of the page. You should break the last sentence in the middle, forcing your reader to have to turn the page to finish that sentence.
And finally, do not leave one sentence on the second page. Try to bring at least a full paragraph to the second page. No orphan on the second page. If it means bringing the type style to point size up a notch from 12 to 14 perhaps just so you can balance the text and put it over to the second page, then do that. Adjusting the margins slightly can bring a straggling sentence to the prior page.
I personally work with 12 and 14. Both of those are nice, they are professional looking and easy to read. Even 14 is not getting to be too clumsy looking. It is easier on people’s eyes and it gives a nice balance overall.
Once again, we want to use fewer words to get the message across and easier on the eyes, more white space and better balance.
Those are some simple layout tips. Keep the reader reading and ensure that your documents get read. Hopefully, this will keep you in good standing with the readers in your life.
Do you have any others tips on business writing layout? I would love to hear them. Post a comment below.