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“But I’m not a designer so, how do I make my professional documents look good?”
August 11, 2019 / By Terri Boote
When we say documents, we mean the physical and digital documents you use to communicate with your clients. Whether you are sending out formal letters or reports, something more casual like a brochure or a handout, or digital communications like newsletters or an email promotion, your documents should be visually appealing, on-brand, and designed with your target readers in mind.
Look, we know not everyone is a graphic designer or loaded with cash to spend on branding and marketing, BUT there are some things you can do to prevent your business paraphernalia looking like it got sucked out of a time warp from 1996!
Let’s take a look into some of the things you need to be aware of to ensure your professional documents look spiffy, and that your customers love ‘em! (and more importantly, respond to them).
Regardless of the type of document you are creating, each of your documents should look like they belong to your business. That means EACH AND EVERY DOCUMENT should use your logo and your branding colours. This is also known as ‘corporate identity’ (search online for some seriously cool examples). Having a strong corporate identity makes your business look polished and professional and ensures people will instantly recognise your brand. Your professional documents should match the branding you use on your website, in your social media, and also in your newsletters. Same, same, same, same!
(You wouldn’t catch The Warehouse advertising something without their trademark fire-engine-red, or Briscoes suddenly rocking a purple logo. So why would you not use the same brand consistency in your own business?)
Using consistent branding plays an essential role in building customer loyalty and making you stand out from your competitors. Remember, it doesn’t matter how well written your content is if the presentation is poor. Good design is key to customer engagement, as is consistent branding.
“But I’m not a designer so, how do I make my professional documents look good?” We hear you ask…
If document design doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t panic! There are some simple techniques you can employ to ensure your documents look tidy and professional.
Make sure that your logo appears as it should on each document. As we mentioned, you can’t change your logo/branding colours to suit your mood or your underpants. You must also ensure that your logo is not distorted out of shape or changed from the original in some way.
Top Tip! If you had your logo designed professionally, it should come with a set of clear brand guidelines which detail things like which background colours your logo is to be displayed on, the minimum size it can be printed at etc…
If you’ve nailed your logo game, people should instantly recognise your business when they see your logo in pride of place.
Spacing and Indents
If you are creating a document like a report or a newsletter where you have larger blocks of text, make sure you are utilising spacing, so your clients can read it without going cross-eyed or losing their place.
Break the text up into smaller paragraphs and leave a line of spacing between each one. Breaking up large chunks of text is also something to employ for web content to make it easier for your audience to read.
(Indenting is not needed if you have set your paragraphs out as outlined above).
Use a font that is easy to read and fits with your branding. You can choose different fonts for your headings to make them stand out if you prefer. There are plenty of default fonts available, but you can also load your branding fonts to most design software, allowing you to maintain consistency at all times.
Most importantly – no Comic Sans, Papyrus, or Jokerman… There is a host of font no-no’s which you can search for on the web. [Search: ‘Font you should never use, ever’] We highly recommend that you check them out and ban them from all your professional documents.
For more visual designs like email promotions or online content, feel free use your chosen font in a mixture of bold, italic, and regular to make the text more dynamic.
- Don’t be afraid to use bullet points or lists in your content either.
- Adding bullets is a concise way to get your point across, make a visual impact, and ensure your content is more likely to be read.
Tools For Document Design
There are some great software options available to help you get your document design right.
Canva is a great online tool that you can use for free (premium features come at an extra cost). It helps you set up your basics first, such as getting the right sized document or image for your needs. You can then work in your branding colours, your logo and choose from a wide range of fonts. It also has plenty of templates and tutorials so even if you are a complete beginner you aren’t going to get left behind!
If you know where to look, you can also cover all of your design bases using Microsoft Word! Thankfully, Word has come a long way since its first release in 1989. Current versions of the software include a ‘design’ tab, which contains all sorts of templates and tricks for improving the look of your document. You can select layouts and colour schemes, add borders, tables, columns, and a whole lot more.
Since most businesses have MS Office software, this can be an excellent place to start, and there are some excellent online resources to help you make the most of these design features. Just remember to save your finished document as a PDF before sending it out to ensure it looks the same on all computers.
If you know that your professional documents need help, but don’t have the time or the energy to create them, then drop us a line at Virtual Assistants. We have VAs that specialise in word processing, design, and document creation and they would love to help you put your best business foot forward!