6 design steps for better proposals, reports and handouts
1 Be font friendly
The font refers to your typeface. Commonly used fonts include Arial and Times New Roman. Use serif fonts for most text. Serifs are squigglies in letters. San-serif fonts like Arial should only be used for headings. A serif font can be used for body text or a heading. No script fonts in reports.
2 Choose carefully
Choose up to two different fonts. No more. Most businesses should not use comic sans, for example, while a day care sending home notes to parents could. Use at least a 12-point font in printed material. The population is aging. You want your design to make it as easy as possible for people to read your information.
3 Be smart with colour
Do you remember when colour printers became affordable? If you do, you also may recall how everyone went crazy using every colour possible for the text because they could. That’s a lot of fun at home. But on the job, not so much. Use no more than two colours for your fonts, and choose carefully.
Red is difficult to read. Blue is the first colour we lose the ability to read as we age, according to Concordia professor and Fellow of the Institute for Performance and Learning Dr. Saul Carliner. Text in colours like orange or yellow are difficult to read. Black text on a white background is your best bet.
4 White space is your friend
The more white space the better. Rarely do people new to design use too much white space. Instead, people tend to cram too much into the space. Set a 1.15 line space at a minimum. Leave a border of white space around your images.
5 Size matters
Paragraphs should be short. No longer than five lines whenever possible. Vary the length of paragraphs to make your document easier to read.
6 Be consistent
Create a style guide for your documents. Use the same look over and over. You’ll see only Calibri and Cambria fonts in all my printed work ~ whether it is a handout, proposal, or training needs assessment report.
Use the same series of subheadings. For example, bold for main headings, underline for subheadings, and italics for secondary subheadings. It is also a time saver because you don’t have to think about your design the next time you create a document.
What one thing will you change in your document design this week to make it easier to read and more professional looking?