June 20 2011

Fun with formatting

by Barbie in Formatting

Formatting plays an integral role in how your readers understand your document. Long, verbose paragraphs can bore readers, ultimately hindering their understanding of your topic. Consider some fun formatting features for your document, whether it’s a web page or a doctoral dissertation, to aid reader understanding.

  • Bulleted lists are a great way to present similar information. If you’re creating a brochure for your business, highlight your services in a bulleted-list format. In all bulleted lists, make sure items are parallel — for example, use all noun phrases or all imperative statements.
  • Tables can effectively present data that you found during your research. Common in theses and dissertations, well-formatted tables can show the overall results of your study, allowing readers to compare, analyze, and absorb your findings. Check with your style guide on how to format tables.
  • Figures break up text and enhance reader understanding. Don’t include figures just to have them — if it’s not directly relevant to your content, keep it out. However, if you can show your readers something rather than just telling them about it, do so with a figure.
  • Headings and subheadings help readers move through your document. They signal a shift in thought, which can aid reader understanding. Again, your style guide should provide detailed information on how to format different heading levels. These heading levels can also populate your table of contents.