Make your documents look good.

In the business world, design and content and are typically seen as mutually exclusive things. In that, writers often don’t worry about ‘design’. This means that few writers take interest in formatting, fonts, titles etc. In fact, I know so many writers who copy-paste text from somewhere else without even clearing the source formatting.

This means when you Ctrl+C > Ctrl+V something, it often pastes in the same font style / size / and colour as the place you copied from. I once had a writer from whose document I could tell what parts she took off the Internet and what she wrote herself by just looking at the formatting.

The problem with this is that ugly documents are difficult to read. And customers will end up thinking your work is bad, even though you, as a writer, have done a good enough job. Here are a few things I regularly do to make sure my documents look good.

  • Set up document styles on both Word and Google docs.

  • Choose fonts that are universal. If you use a Adobe font — however gorgeous it might be — in a Word doc, and your customer doesn’t have the font installed on their computer, your document will load in Times New Roman or Calibri, defeating the purpose. So, choose fonts that are available everywhere, like Arial, when you’re sending a document as a file.

  • Set default paste function on Microsoft Word to ‘paste text only’ to make sure it doesn’t mess up existing formatting. Google docs keyboard shortcut is Ctrl+Shift+V.

  • Treat typography as design. I intersperse all my articles with quotes, combinations of bold/italics/title case etc.


Screenshot from the document version of this blog post.

  • Hyperlink the relevant words only. SEO people will ask you to hyperlink specific keywords, sure, go ahead. But make sure you’re not highlighting an entire paragraph, but just a couple of words.

Internet has matured and people only want to look at pretty things. Reading is much easier and the experience is far better when you make the effort to present your writing well. Try it. Let me know if it makes a difference.