You have about 7 seconds to make a first impression. This is in person, online, and on paper.
This makes it clear that now is the time to learn how to make a document look professional. It doesn’t matter if you are creating a resume for a new position or sending a letter to a potential client, the wrong format and design can result in a negative impression.
While this is true, there are some tips you can use to help ensure your document appears professional. Keep reading to learn what those tips are.
1. Use Extended Type
To make your documents look professional, you have to pay special attention to details. The extended type is a simple concept and one that can make a huge difference. An example of an extended type for a header would be “E X T E N D E D T Y P E.” Not only is this more eye-catching, but it also makes important information stand out on the page.
If you use Word for document creation, you can use the Crtl + D command or click the small arrow at the bottom right-hand corner of the Font panel in the command ribbon. Once the menu is open, choose the amount of space (points) you want to add.
2. Line and Paragraph Spacing
Trying out different line spacing and paragraph spacing is another fast and easy way to make sure your document is easy to read and attractive. For example, if you compare the line spacing of 1 pt. compared to 1.2 pt. you will see a clear difference. Just that .2 difference in size makes a huge impact when it comes to text readability.
With paragraph spacing, you are changing the space over or under the paragraph. Line spacing refers to the amount of space in between your lines of text.
3. Use Contracting Fonts and Sizes
Have you ever heard of the “two font rule”? With this, you will pull yourself away from the desire to use only default fonts. Continually using these defaults for professional documents may give the impression you are lazy, boring, or apathetic by association.
Instead, use two fonts that look different from each other. Try to find options from different families.
One option is to use a sans serif font (these have the “feet” at the top and bottom of the letters) for your headings use a serif font (the letters without any feet) for your body text. Also, make the heading larger and bold. This creates a nice visual effect and a professional document.
4. Remember That Less Is More
Do you want to know a quick and easy way to ensure your documents look professional? Keep things simple. Also, consider using the hidden features provided by programs like Microsoft Word.
When creating a document, the main focus should be the content. Document formatting guidelines exist to help make the content created easier to read and understand.
While you may be tempted to use eye-catching elements in the document, these are only going to be a distraction. Try to maximize whitespace and keep your wording tight. Stick to minimal and simple rules for the entire document.
5. Align All Paragraphs to the Left
It can be tempting to use justified alignment because that is what you see in the newspapers, novels, and even textbooks. However, it is the wrong option for professional documents.
If you don’t create a sense of formality with your document, it may become unreadable.
The best option is to choose left alignment for text. This creates jaggedness on the right side of your paragraphs but keeps the letter-spacing as intended by the typeface you are using. This ensures a higher level of legibility.
If you don’t do this, you may find you have typographic rivers.
6. Indent the First Lines of Your Paragraphs
The only exception to this rule of indenting your paragraphs is if it comes directly after a section heading. In this situation, you can leave it un-indented because the context nearby makes it clear that this is a stand-alone paragraph.
A good rule of thumb is to make the indent size the same as your font size. Be sure you use the paragraph styling features in Word to handle your indents instead of the Tab key (which is standard practice for some).
7. Add Images Between Your Paragraphs
Sometimes, you can add images inside a paragraph and let the text move around it. However, generally, this may impact the readability of the text. This is especially the case for data-driven reports.
A better option, especially for tables, charts, and graphs, is to put images in between the paragraphs and ensure they remain center aligned. This ensures your images don’t vie for attention over the nearby text. It also helps the captions you add to stand out and be noticed.
8. Consider Document Automation
Once you have created a professional document that meets your needs and the needs of your organization, consider investing in document automation. With this, you can quickly and easily recreate all the formatting and settings you have used.
Also, with automation, you can create a single document and then use it for multiple purposes. This is going to help you, and everyone in your organization saves time, which can lead to higher levels of productivity.
Now You Know How to Make a Document Look Professional
If you have wondered how to make a document look professional, the tips and information provided above give you a good overview of what to do and what to avoid. While this may seem like a daunting process at first, once you create a professional-looking document, you will find it is easier to recreate again and again.
If you need help or have questions about document creation and automation, contact us. Our team can answer any questions you have.
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