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What are Microsoft Word’s hidden design treasures?

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Question: "There are a lot of snazzy decorative templates, images, borders, fonts, etc. in the recent versions of Word—so many that I don't even know where to begin. It seems like I could scroll through the options all day! If I want to quickly spruce up a boring report to the managers summarizing the projects our admin group has completed, what are some favorite bells and whistles that would do the job?" - Nora, Hotel Bookings Assistant

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Samantha Pell September 15, 2014 at 12:08 pm

The first thing I do is colorize every heading in the report. It certainly doesn’t count as fancy, but it makes things stand out. What I’ll also do is set those headings off with a single symbol taken right from the Insert – Symbol options or maybe the Insert – Shapes menu (especially the Stars and Banners list there). And that’s where I usually stop for the interior text, just enough to make it look professional but not so much that it calls attention to itself. For the cover page, I’ll go to the Insert – Cover Page options, which in Word 2010 look really impressive.

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Frida September 15, 2014 at 11:59 am

One thing I will often do is add a quick border to each page–it takes just one click but makes a short report look a little classier somehow. No fancy patterns, just a thin dark frame to enclose the text.

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Jackqueline September 14, 2014 at 11:29 pm

I agree with Rita and Kathy, with reports most of our Directors and Managers don’t wish to see ‘ransom’ notes, as my Director calls them. You know those notes where they have cut and pasted from every magazine with all the different fonts and colours.
We have a style guide, when corporate recommended font, size and colour and the logo has to have permission from your Director to be used.
The biggest hit with my team is the simple things in life i.e. file path, date updated, date last printed and page 1 of 10 etc.
If it is an excel spreadsheet, the ability to filter so not too many heading rows, simple as possible seems to work best.

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Kathy September 12, 2014 at 11:31 am

I agree with Rita that it depends to a large degree on the business, but not all corporate managers are quite as clinical as a CFO. Some do welcome going beyond a “black Arial 10-pitch” presentation. One corporate environment that might welcome some innovation is the hospitality industry that Nora works in.

My recommendation is to start by incorporating your corporate logo into headers, footers or gutters, then save the document as a template. Check with your marketing department to ensure you use the logo in accordance with the parameters.

For less formal reports and email, I’ll insert some clip art, or one of the ready-made Shapes (e.g. arrows, stars) to highlight a key point or factoid.

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Rita September 11, 2014 at 4:44 pm

I think this depends entirely on the business you are in and the intended audiance. I know from experience that in the corporate world, less is more. Managers at my company are dependant on smart phones, so I endeavor to keep any correspondence “phone friendly” – meaning easy and fast to read. A well formated mail with “just the facts” listed in chronological order, good grammar and spelling wins the day.

We have had up to 17 on our administrative team. Many times new admin to the team would produce colorful and decorative reports in Excel. I remember taking a spreadsheet to our CFO, the receipent of other works of “art”. The first thing he said before looking at it was, “Is this a pretty spreadsheet, or a functional one?” I was proud to say fully functional!

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