This is the first in a series about the importance of properly formatting company documents and best practices.
You may think writing well is all you need to create useful manuals, policies, and other documents that engage your employees and customers. Think again: how a document is formatted may make the difference in someone reading it and completely ignoring it. Readers decide quickly – in a few seconds – whether they will look twice at your hard work. Format your work in a way that that piques their interest at first glance.
The formatting and consistency of your documents make a lasting impression on prospective and existing employees and clients. Readers appreciate a company that takes the time to make documents easy to read and understand and look good.
Your documents represent your brand. If the content is disorganized, readers may assume your company is too. Don’t let sloppy formatting undermine your message.
Reliable document design can be the first step in building trust. Once readers trust you, they are more likely to value the information you are presenting.
Consistent formatting saves time and produces better results. With established design guidelines, results are consistently good, efficient to produce, and use.
- Writers spend less time organizing and more time developing content.
- Readers understand the organization of content, can locate what they need, and focus on learning.
Efficient workflow: With a preset structure, you
- Don’t have to start from scratch every time.
- Can put documents together faster by filling in obvious elements.
Better product: With consistent guidelines, you can ensure
- Nothing will be missing from your documents.
- It’s easier to find errors; if something is not consistent with the format, it stands out.
- The result is more aesthetic.
Better understanding: If the same formatting is used everywhere (e.g., in every spreadsheet in the company), the reader
- Knows what to expect, how information is structured (hierarchy), and how it flows.
- Can scan and find information quickly.
- Recognizes the main takeaways.
Was this article easy to read? We hope so; we used simple formatting for easy readability. Remember: most authoring software offers formatting tools so that you can easily apply specific standard or custom styles to paragraphs, lists, quotes, and more. Use them to create consistent formatting in even your largest documents.