Jessica joined RWA in 2018, having graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Film Studies. Prior to this, she worked in a photography studio as a wedding album editor and also attended work experience at a local library.
‘To err is human’, as the old adage states, but there is a thin line between simple mistakes and general sloppiness. How many times have you received an email or business document, only to find it poorly structured and difficult to understand?
Most of us at some point in our careers have had to produce a business document. Yet formatting - one of the most important elements to consider when creating a document - is often overlooked.
The design of a document is not just about making your text look ‘nice’. Formatting exists to make sure that the content is clear to read and effectively conveys its message across to readers. Not only does poor formatting look bad, it can leave a lasting impression on the professional standards of the business - and yourself.
So, what can you do to improve formatting? Here are a few ideas for you to consider:
One thing that ties entire documents together isn’t just the words, but how you choose to present them. The main bulk of your page will be in paragraph form, but you might also have the date, addresses, signatures, logos, or other details to contend with. How you place these will either make or break the professionalism of the document.
Using the Enter (sometimes known as Return) key to start a new page will make it difficult to edit your work later on. Trying to insert a picture or footnote after using this method will instantly throw your carefully arranged work into disarray. Instead, use a Page Break to start writing on a new page and keep your pages neatly organised.
Keep to a standard font size and colour that is simple to read whether it is a printed document or on a digital screen. If you need to copy text from a different source, make sure that it matches its destination format. Even a slight change in font size can be noticeable in a paragraph.
Trying to speed through your work can cause all sorts of mistakes. Take the time to thoroughly check what you have written and see where you need to correct any errors in your spelling or punctuation. If you can, save and close the document and come back to it at a later time to proof-read it. Going away and coming back to a document can help pick out errors you might not have noticed the first time around.
Keep these in mind the next time you need to produce a Word document.
For users of the Aviva Development Zone, we are currently developing new administration-focused courses with emphasis on how to improve business documents. These new courses will be available to learners in the coming weeks.
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