What makes a great document?
That's the big question. To save us time debating the perks and downsides of a million different aspects of document creation, we’re going to cut right to the chase.
Document automation makes data entry and content selection easy, but what will your document look like?
To help, we’ve put together the ingredients for success when it comes to document creation.
1. Who are you, really?
Brand is so important in your document creation. Providing documents to your client is a fairly fundamental interaction, so you want to make sure they can recognise your documents when they receive them. You should reinforce elements of your brand throughout the document. For example, you’ll probably want your logo to be visible in your document and feature your brand’s colours somehow.
Think about how you want your tone to sound in the document. You should make sure the tone of the content in your document suits the way you want to speak with your clients. If you want to maintain a friendly and casual tone of voice with your clients, you can’t have a completely stand-offish tone in your documents.
2. I shot the serif.
Which font will you use? No one wants to read a professional document in Comic Sans. They just don’t. Sure, it screams fun, but I’m not sure I’d be taking advice very seriously from 30 pages of Comic Sans. The font you choose will affect the way your reader will read and interpret your document. You’re going to want a font that is clear and easy to read. Font is a visual reminder of your brand and provides an aesthetic value to your text.
You’ll want to pick a font that suits the personality of your business. Elegant fonts generally represent professionalism, but if you are wanting to achieve a more conversational tone, perhaps a more whimsical font would be preferred. Nod supports 10 different font choices to help you nail the personality of your text.
What’s more? You’ll have to think about your text colour and size. Generally, you can’t go wrong with black text on a white background, especially for an info-dump professional document. But what are your headings going to look like? Increasing the font size for headings, or changing the font and colour, will make headings clearer and make for an overall more readable document.
3. Never go out of style.
Styling is pivotal to the production of a great document. No one wants to open a document and read 30 pages of straight uninterrupted text. They don’t even want to look at it. In order to make your document the most readable it can be, making sure you’ve nailed your style specifications is pretty key.
First, figure out what the margins of your document will be. You don’t want your pages to be a billion pages long with 10cm margins and a tiny square of text in the middle of the page, but you also don’t want your document to read like a 1920’s newspaper - no one wants overwhelming border-to-border text. Try and find the happy medium. Also, think about whether you’ll need to print your document – if the margins are too large, you’ll be wasting more paper!
Second, think about how you’re going to break up sections of your document. Indented lists are an amazing way to keep the document visually broken up whilst maintaining the integrity of the document.
Third, tables are a great way to visually represent data. Not only do they break up the clunky paragraphs, but they will draw the reader's eye to certain important elements of data, rather than having to read a chunk of text.
4. Ensure your communication is succinct and clear
Documents you send to your client will contain sensitive and important information, so you’re going to want it to be easy-to-read and accessible to them. Try to avoid any jargon and explain any terms that may be confusing to clients.
Straightforward communication will also build trust with your clients. You don’t want your clients confused about their own advice documents! Keeping communication clear and free from legalese will ensure a satisfied client is confident.
5. Consistency is key.
Documents you produce should remain uniform in tone and style. This will not only strengthen your branding but build trust and reliability with your clients. Loyal clients will get used to how you communicate and produce documents, so maintaining your style will make them more comfortable with you.
When putting together a document, you should keep in mind which elements of the document will impact a client’s ability to read and interpret the information you’re providing them. This will give you an idea of how best to build, format, and style your document.
And, as always, don’t forget to proof-read!