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Clarify Your Message With Clean Design Elements

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Subject: Business, Writing, Marketing, Design
Number of Words: 627

Clarify Your Message Using Clean Design Elements
-- (c)2002 By Linda Elizabeth Alexander

Increasingly, business people rely on desktop publishing.
Gone are the days when a male manager would dictate words
to a female typist and expect her to turn them into an eye-
pleasing document. Also, once complicated documents like
brochures and flyers are now easy to create in programs
such as Microsoft Publisher, and even MS Word.

But most business people have NOT been trained in graphic
design. While such high skills take years to develop,
business people still need a basic sense of good design. A
good design doesn't just look pretty; it also supports and
even enhances your message. So use the following tips to
make your message clear and easy for your readers to grasp.

1. Use plenty of white space.

You don't want your manager to skip over your progress
report because she doesn't want to wade through dense text
to find the important information. Leave lots of white
space for easy reading.

Balance between the amount of text and the white space
around it is important. Do print enough content to be
credible, however. Leaving too much white space,
particularly in combination with a large font, can make
your document look childish and makes you look amateur.

2. Remember the Z-pattern.

Readers of languages that are read left to right read in a
z-pattern. (Rreverse the following information for
languages that are read right to left.) Their eyes first
focus on the upper left hand corner of a page, so capture
their attention there (think about where headlines are
placed in newspapers and advertisements).

Next, their eyes travel toward the right, then move down
the page diagonally to the lower left hand corner. Good
document design will help the readers' eyes travel the page
easily and naturally. Finally, they read the last line of
the page and end in the lower right corner, and the z-
pattern is complete. From there, your design should direct
the reader to flip to the next page, if there is one, for
the most visually attractive impact.

3. Use graphics to enhance the message, not detract from

Regarding the above z-pattern, don't place your graphic
elements in the upper right or lower left corners of the
page. Use them to direct readers into your document
instead. You don't want your readers to look at your photos
or graphs without reading the words! Too many graphics and
poorly placed graphics will both scatter your readers'
attention, taking it away from the text. You'll simply lose
them if your graphics detract from your document. When it's
so easy to place them properly, why risk it?

4. Create visual partitions with typography.

Combined with white space, graphics and the z-pattern, your
choice of font can also help readers scan your document and
focus their attention. White space begins to create
distinction; you can create even more distinction by
adjusting the size and weight of your font. Remember to use
bold and italics sparingly, preferably only in the headings
and not in your text. You can also vary the actual font or
text style you choose for headings. But stick to one serif
font (like Times or Courier) and one sans serif font (like
Arial or Helvetica). Mixing too many font faces and styles
looks garish and amateur.

TodayFree Articles, those who write documents must also design them.
Just because you're not a designer doesn't mean you have
an excuse for poorly designed documents. So follow the
above advice and create eye-catching designs that make it
easier for your reader to understand your message.

Article Tags: Clean Design Elements, Clean Design, Design Elements, Business People, White Space

Source: Free Articles from


Linda Alexander publishes Write to the Point, a FR^E
biweekly ezine for business people who want to be better
writers. Subscribe now!

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