Formatting for Maximum Readability

Are your written materials easy to read? Sometimes people get so caught up in creating a certain image – or squeezing a lot of words into a limited space – that they completely lose sight of readability. Unless yours is a completely visual message, it's important that people be able to read your words. Make sure your finished piece is formatted for maximum readability.

Make it Easy to Scan

People don't want to wade through what appears to be a short novel. If the mere site of your written piece overwhelms the reader, you can bet he or she will quickly move on to something else.

  • Recommendation: Put your headings and subheads in bold type, use bullet points, left justify your text (don't center everything) and break things down into short, easy-to-manage paragraphs.

Avoid Giving Readers a Headache

Have you noticed that an increasing number of websites are composed of tiny little white letters set against a black background? Ugh! Instant eyestrain.

  • Recommendation: For maximum readability of any written piece (not just websites) stick with dark type on a light background, and don't use anything smaller than a 10-point font.

Think about Your Font Formats

Sometimes it works to use special formatting to call attention to particular words, but if you're not careful you'll end up making those important words difficult to read.

  • Recommendation: Go easy on your use of ALL CAPS, italics, underlines, Initial Caps, and other special formats. These all work well on headlines and brief items, but should generally be avoided on longer passages.

Remember, if your letter, website, brochure, or other written piece isn't formatted for maximum readability, there's a good chance it won't get read at all.