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Layout of documents

Microsoft Word and PDF documentsRegardless of whether documents are made available on the internet or in a paper publication, they must be easily understood and read by anyone regardless of their ability.

By using the following guidelines, you should be able to layout your information in a format that will mean the information you are providing can be read and understood.

Guidelines for the layout of documents

  • Use a plain sans serif typeface such as Arial or Helvetica.
  • A minimum of 12 point text is a good size for legibility. If space is limited use 10 point, but no less than that.
  • For Headings, use a type size at least two points bigger than the main text.
  • The number of typefaces and font sizes should be kept to a minimum.
  • Mixing upper and lower case is easier to read than uppercase only. Never use upper case letters for all letters in a word. Do not use long strings of capital letters as they are difficult to read.
  • Use bold lettering for emphasis, lowercase bold is best.
  • Do not underline.
  • Do not use italics.
  • Legibility depends as much on the use of Space as selection of letterform. Line spacing refers to the amount of white space between each line of text. Consistent and wide inter-line spacing is essential.
  • If text is set at 12pt, a minimum of 2pt of space is required between each line, giving a minimum leading of 14pt.
  • Allow ample spacing between sections. Also, let white space frame all headings / sub-headings.
  • Margins: Be generous. Aim for margins of about 25mm at the top and bottom of each page and side.
  • Do not justify text as this can lead to gaps in sentences and prove more difficult to read. Use left aligned and right ragged margins for smoother and easier reading.

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