Laying Out the Perfect Document
Whether you are a professional designer or an individual writing a proposal for a freelance opportunity, knowing the proper way to display your information is vital. Design is communication, and the end goal is the transmit a message to the viewer. The choices you make in design determine how effectively your message is received.
Mock Up Your Template
As in the image above, it's important to have a plan as you start to design. Decide what will be going where, and how much space you'll be allotting for each section. Decide what your standard text (font, size, color) will be for your headers, main body, call-outs, etc. Developing the template gives you a guide to follow as you go and it makes the work ahead less overwhelming.
Follow your Brand Guidelines
Your brand is more than just a logo. Your brand is an identity, whether as a company or an individual, and your promise of quality to your clients or potential clients. This is represented through graphics, colors, imagery, and patterns. If you don't have a style guide for your brand identity guidelines, then it's a good idea to create one or hire a designer to help you.
While you don't have to have images or graphics included in a document, they can certainly add to it. You can reinforce your message, whatever that may be, with an impressive and impactful image or a persuasive infographics. Use stock photography if you need, and be sure that the tones of any imagery you use match or compliment your identity branding.
While this is outside of the realm of design, if you cannot come up with great content, then the design can be useless. It's important to be clear, concise, and convincing, and if you don't have experience with writing content, there are many copywriters you could hire for the job.
In addition to terrific content, it needs to be laid out efficiently and effectively. It's easy to overlook typefaces that may help or hurt your readability, or tempting to use a decorative font when not appropriate or professional. If you cannot hire a professional with a typographic background, stick to these three rules: 1) More than three type faces is too many, 3) the space between text lines is just as important as the text itself, and 2) Serif fonts (the ones with "feet") are easier to read in print, and sans-serif (like the font you're reading now) are more tech-friendly and clean. Blog entry on Typography 101 coming soon!
When it's finally time to lay out the document, keep in mind the final goal. If you're laying out a long document, note that long paragraphs of text is taxing on the eyes. Keep your paragraphs short and break them up with imagery if possible, or even a passage of text in a bigger, bolder font. Also, keep your alignment in a way that won't confuse the eye. Typically, left alignment (or left justified) is best for long documents. The more evenly things are lined up on the page, the easier it is for the eye to move around the page. Finally, use your white space. The negative or white space on a page is just as important as the content because it gives readers a chance to "breathe" and keeps the document from looking too crowded and overwhelming.
Follow these suggestions as a guideline and you'll have a compelling document thats true to your company's branding! Need help? Radiant Resolution is happy to assist you!