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Whether you are an office worker, a small business owner or just a student, it is imperative that you give your documents professional formatting. Reports are usually written after conducting research and publishing the outcome of the analysis therein. In a professional world where people are keen on the finest of the details, it is paramount that the presentation and of the report is eye-catching. The appearance of your document could either enhance your personal brand, or burnish your reputation.
Below are the tips and techniques on how to professionally present your document
Use fonts well
The fonts mostly recommended for professional documents are sans-serif fonts (e.g. Arial and Helvetica) and serif fonts (e.g. Times New Roman and Garamond). It is advised that you pair the fonts; if you chose to use a sans-serif font for the subheads and headlines, then the body text should be in serif font, and vice versa. The rule of the thumb is that you should not use more than two fonts per page.
Utilize white space
Having white space in the document is not wasting it. Using wider margins reduces the length of lines of texts and makes your writing easier, giving your readers an easy time to scan through the document. Mentally, this kind of formatting makes the document more pleasant to read. Do not, however, squeeze too much text onto a single page.
Proper utilization of headlines and subheads
Effective use of headings (both headlines and subheads) as signposts helps to summarize the whole story in a given document, and guides the reader to the most important points. They also break the usually off-putting large blocks of text. The headlines and subheads should be bolded, and in larger font size. The spacing before the subhead should be more than that below it, so that it does not appear to be floating halfway.
Use of tables and lists
In as much as lists are effective in drawing the attention of the reader, they should not be overused. Documents with many lists look disjointed and hard to follow when reading. Instead, substitute some lists with tables, which neatly formats information in a straightforward manner. They are particularly useful when directly comparing two things using the same criteria. When formatting the tables, make sure that the gridlines do not run close to the text. Differentiate long rows by shading them.
Understand your topic
A good document should concisely address the topic at hand. Research the topic well, and use the relevant information to justify your points, and base your conclusion on facts rather than personal opinion. When referencing, use a variety of sources such as books, websites, newspaper articles, raw data, annual reports and journals.
Bind the report
A binding machine is crucial if you want to have a very high standard documentation. A bound document gives a printed material a professional appearance and increases its impact when presented to the target audience. Some of the benefits of binding a document include:
- A better image both for you and the organization which raises your profile
- Enhanced usability as bound documents is easier to handle
- Added style and colour by using covers, wraps, wires and combs
- Protection and preservation of documents; when left exposed, papers can be damaged. Continued flipping and turning of unbound papers gives them a dog-eared appearance.