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Professional document formatting: why it’s vital, and how to achieve it

Professional document formatting is vital – you need your business documents to reflect well on your organisation.

But what I often hear from business leaders is that their staff spends too much time formatting documents. Yet, the documents they produce (and send to third parties) still look unprofessional.

The reason? We’ve found that organisations are working from Word templates that are set up in-house, in an ad hoc manner. Or from templates created by a graphic designer as part of a branding initiative.

Regardless, the templates they use weren’t built with functionality in mind.

The worst-case scenario: businesses aren’t making use of Word templates at all. They’re simply rehashing previous documents. This can lead to a whole range of other issues.

On top of that, staff don’t always have the skills or time to format documents to a professional level. So they need the right tools for the job, and that’s where Word templates come in.

Why use Word templates?

Because well-designed Word templates streamline the document formatting process. And they take the guesswork out of formatting documents.

But it’s not just about producing well formatted documents in less time. Word templates provide other less obvious benefits. So they’re an invaluable resource for any organisation, regardless of size.

Here’s why …

1. Word templates reinforce your organisation’s branding

Your business documents can do a lot to reinforce your organisation’s branding.

Of course, the best way to do this is to make sure each document created includes a business name and/or logo. No doubt your organisation’s documents already do.

But you can and should take it further than this.

How?

By using a Word template which incorporates your organisation’s logo / brand colours within the colour palette. This makes it easier to apply brand colours to heading styles and other Word elements (e.g. tables and charts).

Heading and body text styles should also incorporate your organisation’s fonts.

The result: all business documents created from the template will then use the same colours and fonts. And so every document will reinforce your organisation’s branding.

2. Word templates make it easy to maintain your organisation’s professionalism

Maintaining your organisation’s professionalism within its business documents is important. The problem again is that many users don’t have the time and skills to format documents well. But this is overcome when they’re given templates to work from.

That’s because well-designed Word templates are already formatted to a professional level. And they contain all elements specific to your organisation, e.g. page layouts and styles. So any document created from a template will also have the same professional design and feel.

3. Word templates reduce the need for advanced formatting skills

Word templates contain all the elements needed for a user to build and format documents. For example, heading styles and table formatting.

So users don’t need advanced formatting skills such as how to create styles, and so on. This is already taken care of by the template.

All a user needs is a basic understanding of how to apply formatting, or insert an element.

4. Word templates increase productivity

Staff can spend a lot of time formatting documents, especially in organisations that produce a lot of documents every day. So it makes sense to streamline the document formatting process.

Again, templates already contain all (and only) the required styles and elements. So users have the tools they need to produce better results, quicker. It also means they can focus on the content of documents, not the way they look.

Users then have more time for the more important aspects of their work. And this results in increased productivity.

5. Increased productivity results in money saved

This is the big one! As they say, time is money. So the more time staff has for important tasks, the greater the benefit to the organisation.

How Word templates enable professional document formatting

When well-designed, Word templates take the guesswork and frustration out of formatting documents. This leads to professional document formatting outcomes, and greater consistency in all documents.

For example:

  • Templates include default fonts and colour palette settings. They also include heading / text and multilevel list styles. Given this, users are less likely to introduce other formatting into documents.
  • Templates include table styles. These can contain options for first column formatting, banded rows, etc. So it’s easy for users to format all tables in the same way. Users can also easily change the setup of a table by deselecting / selecting a style option, e.g. to remove a header row.

And then there’s the time benefits …

Don’t forget that templates save users a lot of time when formatting documents.  That’s because:

  • Templates streamline lengthy formatting and other processes to one or two steps. For example, a table style is applied with the click of a button. But if a table style doesn’t exist, users must format each table element separately to achieve the same results. So they need to format the header row, then format borders and cell padding, and so on. This is very time consuming.
  • Likewise, a template often includes automation. For example, a report title that’s automatically replicated within a document footer. This minimises the time required to enter text. And it also helps reduce input errors.

Above all, templates work because they set a solid foundation for creating and formatting documents. Document formatting is easier because templates include all required text formatting and elements. So users spend less time formatting documents. And their efforts ultimately result in professional documents which represent your organisation well.