Have you ever noticed that certain pages on the internet are innately unpleasant, and when you open them, you have basically no desire to peruse their content? This could be due to poor document structure!
In multimedia mediums like blogs and web pages, text plays a significant role. So, if you are a website owner or writer of any kind, you have to understand the importance of document formatting.
The question is, what is document formatting, and what are the rules? If you’re unsure where to begin, this guide for beginners will help you master the art of document formatting, so make sure you read it until the end!
Top 13 Tips to Format Your Document
Here are the top 13 rules and considerations that will help you churn out picture-perfect documents:
1. Write for the Eyes
The best way to gauge the quality of your text is by seeing it through your reader’s eyes. Before you begin formatting, take a quick look and check if it’s pleasing to the eyes or not. Does your text have a natural flow, or does it hurt your head to read through the lines?
2. Break the Large Chunks of Text
You must break up the large chunks of text into small, readable paragraphs. People in the creative industry are aware of the diminishing attention span of users worldwide. This means that you must keep your information short and crisp so that your users can instantly process it.
3. Use the Right Font
Fonts are the building blocks of your text. Naturally, if you want to get the formatting and appeal of your content right, you have to hit the bull’s eye as far as the text font is concerned.
How do you choose the best font for your text? The golden rule is to keep it simple, readable, and context-appropriate.
Some of the standard fonts used by most websites and documents online are Open Sans, Arial, Roboto, Calibri, Futura, etc. All of these fonts are sans-serif, meaning they are less decorative and more legible, even when read in a hurry. The simplistic appeal of these fonts also gives your blog a neat look. The problem with fun, flashy fonts is that they may initially look appealing, but they are annoyingly impossible to read.
4. Pay Attention to the Font Size and Color
Let’s start with the font size — it’s common sense that the larger the font is, the easier it will be to read and process. And since you don’t know who will be sitting on the other side of the screen, it’s best to go with a font size that works for everyone.
Depending on the font type, the average font size for documents is between 11-16 pt. Try to stick to this range. If you go a little too overboard with the size, your content might come across as unprofessional or crowded.
Speaking of colors, always stick to the standard black shade. You might switch to a darker shade of gray if you want to reduce the contrast between the text and the background. Keep the other colors for highlighting a text or quotes. Also, make sure you utilize the bold and italics feature for important terms whenever needed.
5. Carefully Adjust the Page Margin
Wondering why page margins matter? The answer: visual appeal. Since there is little you can do to make a text visually appealing, using the correct margin size can make a huge difference.
For instance, say you get a document with text covering every inch of the paper from the top-left corner to the bottom-right and another document with a neat 1’’-2’’ margin on all sides — which of the two are you most likely to prefer? Obviously the latter!
White space is crucial to reducing visual clutter and making your content easy to read. Try to keep a minimum of 1’’ margin on all sides of your document.
6. Paragraph Alignment
A lot of publications, newspapers, and books use justified alignment to avoid creating an uneven indentation on the right side of the page. While it might work for their audience, it’s not an optimal alignment for official documents or client work. Justified alignment adds uneven spacing between your words to align sentences and paragraphs together, making the text less readable.
Using left alignment might give the text an uneven right indentation, but being optimally spaced, the words will be much easier to read.
7. Make the Paragraphs Stand Out
Often, your client or colleagues might not read every word of the document. That’s why it’s crucial to optimize your document to be readable, especially when someone is simply skimming through the pages. The easiest way to do this is to break down each pivotal point into separate paragraphs and then make each of those paragraphs stand out.
So, how do you make a paragraph stand out without making the document too flashy? Start by double spacing between each paragraph and indent the first line slightly to the right.
Within the paragraph, maintain uniform spacing to distinguish it from the paragraph gaps.
8. Break the Monotony With Lists
Irrespective of the kind of document you are presenting, no user wants to read huge blocks of text one after another. With a format like this, you run the risk of losing their attention or causing them to miss important details.
It’s best to break the monotony of the text with numbered lists wherever applicable. We recommend putting only the key details in lists. This way, you will be able to bring the important points into the limelight, and the reader gets to skim through the content faster — a win-win for both parties.
9. Line Spacing Options
Another key factor that helps improve readability is line spacing. When writing a long text with numerous consecutive lines, it’s important to have enough space between each to avoid cluttering. Readers with visual problems or cognitive impairment also find it challenging to read a text if the lines are too close to each other. Try to keep the line spacing between 1-1.5.
10. Add Page Breaks
You might not see the big fuss about adding appropriate page breaks throughout the document while you are reading it on your word processor, but the difference will become quite evident once you get it printed. When lines are stacked too close to each other, they are not only difficult to read but also make your entire document look unorganized.
A page break tells your printer where a page ends and the next one begins. Even when you send someone a soft copy of a document, a page break will help clearly distinguish the two pages. Without that, your document will seem like a never-ending paper roll stuffed with text from beginning to end. The more breaks your reader gets, the better their reading experience and your content’s readability will be.
11. Adequate Subheadings for Each Section
Let’s be honest, no one has the time to go through countless pages of a document just to find the one piece of information they initially came to the article for. To make it easier for your readers to find what they are looking for, add relevant subheadings before each new section or argument.
The subheadings will not only break the monotony of the paragraph-format texts but will also make the document more readable and skimmable.
If you are using an online document processor like Voxtury, you can also use built-in heading styles like H2s, H3s, and H4s to signify the hierarchy between each section.
12. Add a Strip of White Space Between Every Component on the Document
Whether it’s a whole chunk of a paragraph or a simple line stretched between the left and right margins, every element on your document should be preceded and followed by a strip of white space.
The fundamental rule of creating a readable document is to avoid letters or characters stacking on each other and cluttering the page. When your eyes slide over consecutive lines of text, an occasional white space acts as a pleasant break and helps your readers focus better.
13. Add Pictures Between Paragraphs
You might wonder if document formatting is only about the text. Well, it’s not! If you want to amp up the readability and visual appeal of your documents, pictures are necessary.
Try to break down big chunks of paragraphs with pictures every now and then. Keep the picture centrally aligned so that no piece of text accidentally squeezes beside it.
Offline vs Online: What Type of Word Processor Is Better for Your Business?
Your editing techniques and formatting style go a long way in creating a perfectly readable document, but the type of software you choose will affect the ease of formatting and overall document management.
Here we’ll go over what type of word processor is best for your business: offline or online.
Sharing a document from an online word processor is a lot easier than using offline text editors. Instead of emailing a copy of the document to the concerned recipient, you can simply add their email ID to the text editing software account, giving them instant access to the text.
2. Team Collaboration
Editing and formatting is often not a one-person job, especially if you have a client-centric project management approach. If you use an online editing tool, you can give your clients or concerned team members direct, real-time access to the content so that everyone can work together to accelerate a project.
Speaking of real-time updates, every change made in the document will automatically be reflected across devices without you having to mail updated copies to everyone involved repeatedly.
3. Cloud Storage
Almost every online text editor probably has its own cloud storage or at least allows integration with your iCloud or Google Drive so that your documents are safely stored online. This means that even if your device is compromised in any way, you will not lose a single piece of data.
Storing documents (especially large ones) on the cloud will also protect your device from cluttering. After all, an organized workspace leads to better productivity.
Many online text editors allow you to integrate with other applications or make your current text editor more functional with optional add-ons. This could come in handy when dealing with a massive spectrum of readers.
For instance, your offline word processor might not have the exact built-in styles of fonts your document needs. An online word processor will allow you to add your own font. Some of these tools also help convert original documents to PDF files.
In simple words, online text editors are far more scalable, flexible, and efficient than regular offline word processes — use high-quality writing software like Voxtury to unlock the true future of perfect document formatting.
Whether a document is meant only for an internal audience or a textual content piece for the world, presentation is as important as the content itself. No matter how many hours you put into curating the perfect piece, it will hardly make any impact unless you make it readable. If you want to jazz up your documents to be attention-worthy, perfect formatting is the only solution.
You can always come back to this article for a refresher on the 13 rules to follow for good document formatting, but as a general rule of thumb, your document should be neat and readable. You don’t want readers to be distracted by weird formatting as they peruse your well-written article!
We hope you now know everything there is to know about document formatting, including what document formatting is, how to go about it, and why online editors like Voxtury have the edge over offline ones.