Tips to Ensure Your Document Makes a Good First Impression

A well-formatted and error-free document makes a good first impression. It can be the difference between getting a job or contract and being passed over. Follow these tips to ensure your document looks its best. 

Formatting: Use proper headings, fonts, and margins. Text should be consistent in size and font. Alignment should be consistent throughout the document.  Font should be legible. Font size should be appropriate for the type of document (e.g., 10-point font is good for resumes, but 11 or 12-point font is preferred for business letters). Margins should be consistent throughout the document and around 1 inch top, bottom, left, and right (for print documents). Paragraphs should not touch each other (no rivers of white space flowing through your text), but there should also not be too much space between them (don’t make readers guess where one paragraph begins and another ends; it makes it difficult to follow the train of thought). Line spacing should be at least single-spaced if not double-spaced.

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Pagination: Paginate documents using A1office pagination feature. This will create evenly spaced pages that are easy to read.  Calibrate the page margins, headers, and footers to ensure they accurately reflect your desire for how many pages a document should have. For example, if you want three-hole punched copy with double-spaced lines on 8 ½ x 11 paper that is paginated into six-page sections printed on both sides of each page (6 pages front and back), set up the margins as such:

1 inch top and bottom margin

½ inch left and right margin

1 ½ inch header/footer margin on all four sides of the paper. Headers should include the name of the report or cover letter, date it was written or revised, what company or organisation it is being sent to, and any references to other versions of this document by date. You can easily do this with the help of A1office’s docx editor online

Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation: Spell check your document to ensure it does not contain any errors. If you are unsure about the spelling of a word, use an online dictionary or one available as a mobile app for iphones and other mobile devices to verify its correct usage. Use only one space after periods and other punctuation marks unless sentences will be run together without spaces in between them (e.g., resume formats where each job title is listed on a separate line with no space between them will require two spaces after each period). Capitalize proper nouns such as names of people and companies/organizations as well as geographic regions. Use proper names when referring to specific people, titles (president; assistant director; chief of staff), or companies/organizations, etc., even if you are aware of them on a first name basis.

Layout: Use section breaks to separate different types of content (headings, paragraphs, lists, etc.). This will help with layout and visual continuity. Tables: Table borders should be black, thin, and double-spaced. Text in tables should be left-aligned, unless you are using a table with multiple columns of text where the text in the columns is to be centered instead.

Document Formatting Best Practices: Make sure your documents are ready for printing before sending them to others. This includes having only one space after periods and other punctuation marks, selecting print options that will not shrink or scale any fonts (usually this means setting it not to), and making sure your margins are set correctly according to how many pages you want your document divided into. Check all headers, footers, page numbers, table of contents entries ,and other formatting elements for accuracy if paginating. Using these best practices that your documents look professional when read by others. Use similar formatting for all documents to maintain consistency, making it easier for readers to understand the content you are communicating.

Printing Tips: If you are printing documents yourself, ensure that your printer will not shrink or scale any fonts when it prints. This is done on most printers by selecting “No Scaling” under print scaling options in the properties section prior to printing. Ensure that no page numbers, headers, footers, table of contents entries, etc., are missing from your document before printing it for others.

Proofing Best Practices: Have someone else proofread your documents to catch errors you may have missed. Have them read through each word beginning from the first word of each paragraph and continuing one sentence at a time until reaching the last word of the last paragraph. Also have another person go through and verify any special characters such as bullets numbering lists , symbols , or mathematical equations used in the document.

Make sure that your document is free of any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors before sending it to others. This includes double-checking for one space after periods and other punctuation marks, checking all headers , footers, page numbers, table of contents entries, etc., ensuring they are accurate if paginating the document (with sections), etc. Using these best practices will help ensure documents appear professional when read by others. Consistency across documents will also make them appear more professional as well as easier to understand what you are trying to communicate.

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