To format is to make choices that affect a page’s appearance. The phenomenal growth of word processing and the ready availability of desktop publishing programs and laser printers mean that writers must understand formatting. This section explains three basic formatting areas:

  1. How to design a page
  2. How to emphasize material
  3. How to use heads to indicate contents

How to Design a Page

To design a page means to arrange it so that it effectively presents the contents to the reader. Good design makes a document easier to read. Software programs such as ‘Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, Page  and Ready, Set, Go! now give writers the ability to manipulate the elements of design. This section explains those elements, then gives some guidelines for using them effectively.

The Elements of Design

The major elements of design are rules margins columns typefaces justification  page numbers.

A rule is-a line. Its width is measured in points, a typographical term. One point is 1172 of an inch. Rules are designated by their width: “I point,” “2 point,” and so forth. The margin is the white space between the edge of the paper and the body of text. Columns are vertical lines of ·type; a normal typed page has one wide column. Many word-processing programs allow up to twelve narrow columns; in practice, however, reports seldom need more than three columns. Some report writers are beginning to use two columns. Every typeface (often called  in word-processing software) is named; some frequently used typefaces are Times, Helvetica, and Palatino. Typefaces are divided into two major groups: serif and sans serif. Serif faces have extenders at the ends of straight lines in letters. Sans serif do not have the extenders. Serif faces impart a classical, more formal impression whereas sans-serif faces appear more modern and informal. Serif Technical writing makes the world go around.

Sans Serif Technical writing makes the world go around.  Justification means aligning all the first or last letters of the lines of a column. Documents in English are almost always presented “left justified”  all the first letters of each line start at the left-hand margin. Right justified means to align at the right-hand margin all the letters that end lines. Page numbers appear either in the upper right corner or at the bottom middle of the page. Each piece of paper counts in the sequence of pages even if no page number appears on it.

Guidelines for Using Design Elements

Guidelines for using these design elements follow:

  • Generally use f-inch margins on the top, bottom, left, and right. Use inch margins on the left if you are going to bind the paper.
  • Avoid right-justified margins. Many word-processing programs achieve right justification by inserting too many spaces between words or else by excessive hyphenation, Both methods call attention to themselves, thus distracting from the message. Do not use rules thicker than 2 points. Generally choose a hairline (or 112 point) rule. The thicker the rule, the more it dr~ws the reader’s eye. As a rule of thumb, thick rules appear above words, thin rules
    appear low.
  • Generally use a single column for reports. As shown on p. 155, for design’s sake you might want to use a 2- or inch left margin.
  • Two columns are especially useful if you plan to use a laser printer to produce a number of graphics. You can control the visual impact of the page better.
  • Use no more than two typefaces per document. In general, use the same typeface for text and heads, but you could use one typeface for text and another for heads (choose a serif face for text and a sans serif for heads). Use italics sparingly – italicized print is hard to read.
  • Place page numbers in the same position on each page. Many word  processing programs automatically number each page. (The number “1” can appear on page one.)

To see the design elements arranged for different visual effects, turn to pages 122-123. Four models illustrate different ways of designing the same page.  Developing a Style Sheet As you generate any document, you should develop a style sheet, which is a list of the ways you will treat each  design item.For instance, for a three-page memo, the style sheet would be quite short:

1-inch margin on all four sides no right justification single-space paragraphs double-space between paragraphs heads flush left and under cored triple-space above and double-space below heads page numbers at bottom middle For a more complicated document, you need to devise a much more complete style sheet. In addition to margins, justification, and paragraph spacing, you need to consider  a multilevel head system  page numbers rules for page top and bottom rules to offset visuals captions f06,visuals
headers  footers – such as whether the   placed inthe top (header) or bottom (footer) margins.

How to Emphasize

To achieve emphasis, you highlight. Highlighting means to make an item look different from the items, around it. You can highlight by using boldface, all capitals, underlining, or vertical lists. The basic guidelines for highlighting are.

  • Highlight – but not too much .
  • Use boldface as the most effective highlight (underlining is the most effective for typed material).
  • Avoid long phrases written in all capital letters .
  • Use vertical lists to emphasize the items in a series.

The following two examples illustrate ineffective and effective use of highlighting. Ineffective highlighting Caution: Do not separate the mold holders from the mold cavity with a sharp instrument. Use nothing harder than brass or
wood. You could damage the mold. Caution: DO NOT separate the mold holders from the mold cavity with a sharp instrument. Use nothing harder than brass or wood. You could damage the mold

How to Use Heads to Indicate Contents

To indicate a document’s contents, you develop a head system. A head is a  word or phrase that indicates to the reader the contents of the following section or subsection. Here are four basic guidelines for developing a head system.

  1. Designate levels of heads, traditionally called by letters or numbers (A, B, C, D, or level, level 2, level 3). Level A is a main section, level B a ‘subsection, level C a sub-subsection, and so en. Make each level look different, with the level A head more prominent than level B, and so forth. Use bold facing or underlining. Use different print sizes. Place different levels at different positions on the page (centered or flush left). Your method of printing the document will affect your options for designating heads:
  2. Make each level’s wording parallel. Use all noun phrases or questions
    or +s words.
  3. Use content wording, not generic wording. Use phrases like “Factors in Total Cost” rather than “Cost”. Use questions.

To see these guidelines in action, turn to;pp. 153–156,showing a section of a report presented in several ways. Indicating Two Levels of Head Most documents need only one or two levels of head. Most writers use-a “side left” head as the level 1 head 1/ and a “paragraph” head as the level 2 head. For level I, place the head at the left-hand margin, leave white space above and below, use no punctuation after; and either boldface or underline it. For level 2, place the head at the start of the ‘paragraph, indented five spaces, followed by a period.  Indicating More Than Two Levels of Head The remainder of this  section illustrates two different head systems, open and numbered; and both can indicate up to four or five levels of head. Examples are given for the typewriter and laser  Carefully note  letters are capitalized, how much space is above and below, and whether punctuation follows.







The numbered system, often used in more technical or more complex material, indicates level by a number before the head. Each succeeding level uses more numbers. The first level is 1.0, 2.0, etc. The second level is 1.1, 1.2; The third level 1.1.1, 1.1.2. Notice that laser-printed documents use boldface and larger type.

5 Levels – Typewriter/Basic dot matrix 1.0



5 Levels – Laser printer/Advanced dot matrix