Basic Design: How To Make Sure Your Documents Don't Look Ugly

Basic Design: How To Make Sure Your Documents Don’t Look Ugly

Design might look like a rocket science for those who haven’t touched it before but it is involved in everyday life and surrounds us all the time.

Today I would like to share some simple tips for non-designers on how to make your work look better i.e. presentation, resume, report, brochure, business card design or any other work that involves design and formatting.

Using these simple document layout principles, you will instantly see a significant difference that will make your work look cleaner, and more importantly, more professional. We all know that first impressions matter and this applies as much to Powerpoint presentations as it does to interviews.

1. Create visual hierarchy

create_hierarchy

When working with fonts try to establish a visual hierarchy and stick to it.

This will help to improve scannability of your content. Sticking to a defined guide will build a feeling of consistency, these elements will improve your work and you’ll appear as more professional for your reader.

Start from the main headline — the most important element — and define its size, color and style. Then work your way to secondary, tertiary, quaternary headline and finally, main body text.

2. Do not use more than two fonts

2fonts

One of the biggest mistakes people make is choosing wrong combinations of fonts. Another is using too many of them. It’s important to stick to the current style of the headlines, subheadings and body text, do not mix them up.

Here are some font combinations: 10 More Great Google Font Combinations You Can Copy you can use on your website or any other project.

3. Use lots of white space

use-whitespace

White space doesn’t mean you have to use the white color. Just give enough room for the things to be readable. Typically, a line height of at least 1.5 makes sure your copy is legible. Space is good. Don’t feel like you have to stuff something in every blank area on your document!

This principle of whitespace comes with consistency in mind. Use the same size margins and spacing throughout your document. For example, if you use a 30 pixel margin for your first paragraph, use it as such for every other paragraph. Don’t suddenly decide to have a 50 pixel margin for another paragraph.

4. Align things

align_things

Alignment is another very important aspect of a professional design. You can have only one way of alignment in your website or document. If you started aligning headlines on the left then all the copy and images should align with vertical line on the left.

5. Contrast

contrast

One of the biggest mistakes people are doing is picking wrong colors for the copy text on the dark background. Keep the contrast at a really high level to ensure that elements are different enough to be perceived as separate.

When putting text on pictures, contrast again comes into play. Make sure you make them big enough and different in color to be readable.

Design is all around us. Now that you know these basic principles design, carefully implement them in your next document and you’ll notice a big difference.

Hopefully you have learned some new tricks that you can use in your work to make it look cleaner, better, attractive and more professional. Let me know if you have any questions regarding these tips.

Tomas Laurinavicius

Designer, blogger, entrepreneur & adventurer from Lithuania. Living to inspire and be inspired. Founder of Despreneur. Follow me on Twitter.

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