by: Linda Elizabeth Alexander
[ Most businesses use desktop publishing and graphic design on regular basis to get their business message across in a visual pleasing way. However, most business people DON'T have graphic design or desktop publshing training and don't have a basic sense of graphic design and layout. A good design doesn't just look good, it also has to convey your message properly. Use this article to learn how to convey your message clearly and easily for your readers.]
business people rely on desktop publishing. Gone
are the days when a male manager would dictate words to a female
typist and expect her to turn them into an eye-pleasing
document. Also, once complicated documents like brochures and
flyers are now easy to create in programs such as Microsoft
Publisher, and even MS Word.
most business people have NOT been trained in graphic
design. While such high skills take years to develop, business
people still need a basic sense of good design. A good design
doesn't just look pretty; it also supports and even enhances
So use the following tips to make your message clear and easy for your readers to grasp.
1. Use plenty of white space.
don't want your manager to skip over your progress report
because she doesn't want to wade through dense text to find the
important information. Leave lots of white space for easy
Balance between the amount of text and the white space around it
is important. Do print enough content to be credible, however.
Leaving too much white space, particularly in combination with a
large font, can make your document look childish and makes you
2. Remember the Z-pattern.
of languages that are read left to right read in a
z-pattern. (Rreverse the following information for languages
that are read right to left.) Their eyes first focus on the
upper left hand corner of a page, so capture their attention
there (think about where headlines are placed in newspapers and
their eyes travel toward the right, then move down the
page diagonally to the lower left hand corner. Good document
design will help the readers' eyes travel the page easily and
naturally. Finally, they read the last line of the page and end
in the lower right corner, and the z- pattern is complete. From
there, your design should direct the reader to flip to the next
page, if there is one, for the most visually attractive impact.
3. Use graphics to enhance the message, not detract from it.
the above z-pattern, don't place your graphic elements
in the upper right or lower left corners of the page. Use them
to direct readers into your document instead. You don't want
your readers to look at your photos or graphs without reading
the words! Too many graphics and poorly placed graphics will
both scatter your readers' attention, taking it away from the
text. You'll simply lose them if your graphics detract from your
document. When it's so easy to place them properly, why risk it?
4. Create visual partitions with typography.
with white space, graphics and the z-pattern, your
choice of font can also help readers scan your document and
focus their attention. White space begins to create distinction;
you can create even more distinction by adjusting the size and
weight of your font. Remember to use bold and italics sparingly,
preferably only in the headings and not in your text. You can
also vary the actual font or text style you choose for headings.
But stick to one serif font (like Times or Courier) and one sans
serif font (like Arial or Helvetica). Mixing too many font faces
and styles looks garish and amateur.
those who write documents must also design them. Just
because you're not a designer doesn't mean you have an excuse
for poorly designed documents. So follow the above advice and
create eye-catching designs that make it easier for your reader
to understand your message.
Linda Alexander publishes Write to the Point, a FR^E biweekly
ezine for business people who want to be better writers.
Subscribe now! firstname.lastname@example.org
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