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What are the easiest ways to add panache to your Word documents?

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Question: "The reports we generate at work look as boring as can be, mostly because no one wants to take the time to spruce them up. What are some very fast, very simple ways to tweak a Word document so its appearance commands attention?” — Lydon, Inventory Manager

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Michele Snyder January 31, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Working in a communications department I have learned to shy away from using clipart in my Word documents and PowerPoints as it can be a distraction to your reader. You also want to make sure to leave white space in your documents. Too much copy on one page may backfire and make the reader overwelmed. I also only use italic, bolding and underlining on specific points that I really want to standout to the audience.

I know it’s hard not to try to be creative in your documents by using all the bells and whistles, but always put the reader first. A well written and clean document always trumps the clipart.

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Ava January 29, 2013 at 11:32 am
Tris January 29, 2013 at 7:31 am

Depending on the “importance” of the document, I’ll actually shake up the fonts a little – everyone’s so used to seeing the same ones over and over again that using one that’s a little playful or at least friendly-looking is a good thing.

But the big one for me is SmartArt in Word 2010. It expresses really obvious little processes visually and allows you to embed text inside a ton of small sample images. There’s just no reason to have big boring walls of text when you can use SmartArt once in a while to break it up.

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Dora January 28, 2013 at 5:37 pm

Don’t under-estimate bullet points…. there’s a wide variety of them in Word 2010. Not everything has to be just a boring dot! Also, your chapter and subject headings should be in a different color from the rest of the text–it’s just a little touch that shows you cared enough to make things clearer.

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JoAnn Paules January 25, 2013 at 7:36 am

Sometimes you can spruce up a report by trimming it down. Cutting back on the text (most have waaaay too much info in them that no one ever reads, add a little more white space between paragraphs, adjust your margins if possible, or add some charts if applicable. The charts option can be tricky. there is a whole world of things that people normally do to charts that do absolutely nothing for the data. (I was guilty of that myself until recently. I’m taking an online class in Excel dashboards and have been applying this new knowledge. So far, my managers are happy with the results.)

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Gramz January 24, 2013 at 4:19 pm

I like to put borders on documents, but not letters of course. A border demands more attention and creates the idea of being importance

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Julie Vaughn January 24, 2013 at 4:15 pm

As for sprucing up Word docs, I try to use the “Line and Paragraph Spacing” function to add a bit more white space between sections and sometimes in other places. This is a case where less is more when it comes to how many words you can cram onto a page. I also use the “Border” function to highlight specific paragraphs, even perhaps indenting the margins and/or adding color to make a key element stand out. These items are right on the ribbon all the time and take very little skill or imagination to use.

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