Formatting Tips

Text Formatting

    1. All caps are the old, typewriter way of doing titles. It is used to make text stand out.
    2. Tips
      1. It is harder to read than regular text, so use it only in short phrases. IF YOU HAVE A LOT OF IT, IT BECOMES HARD TO READ. CERTAIN FONTS MAKE ALL CAPS NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO READ.
      2. Use all caps when you want to keep the tops and/or bottoms of the text even. All caps looks like a rectangle. Lower case text rises and falls.
      3. All caps looks more formal than lowercase.
      4. To make all caps more readable, try one of the following:
        1. Make the first letters of the words in all caps larger.
        2. Increase the space between the letters. The space between the letters is technically called the kerning, but it may also be referred to as character spacing. In word processing, you can change this in your font control panel. Web pages cannot adjust the kerning, so you don't see and example here.
  2. Bold
    1. Bold is now the most common and simplest way to make text stand out. It is easy to read and makes the text stand out better than all caps.
    2. Tip: if you use it too much, it looses its effectiveness.
  3. Italics
    1. Italics are another old typewriter way of making text different. It has lost most of its use with word processing, but still has its purpose.
    2. Tips
      1. Use italics when you want words to have different emphasis, but not to stand out. Ex: The wind blew against the trailer crash, boom, bang.
      2. Of course use it properly with citations, or the librarians will be upset.
      3. Use script fonts instead of italics to make things cursive or fancy, they look better.
  4. Size
    1. If you want text and especially titles to stand out make the text size larger.
    2. Tips
      1. Use it in combination with bold to really make text stand out.
      2. Make the most important things in a document largest, the least important things smallest.
      3. Be consistent across your document or web pages. Make all the titles of the same importance across a document the same size.
      4. As with bold, if you overuse it, it looses its importance and can make things harder to read.
      5. Web pages can only change size in a limited way.
  5. Font
    1. Another useful way to make text stand out is to change the font.
    2. Tips:
      1. Choose a font that matches the mood or meaning of the words.
      2. Use a font change to signify that the meaning of text has changed.Newspapers do this well. News all has one font, classifieds another, advertisements another, editorials another.
      3. As with size, keep all the titles of the same importance and significance across a document the same font.
      4. Rule of thumb: don't use more than 4 fonts on a page. The text may become hard to read if you keep changing the font.
      5. All caps, with the first letter larger, are a good way to make text more formal.
      6. Use a script font instead of italics to make text fancy.
      7. Web pages handle fonts differently. The font I use on my computer may not be the same on another computer. Thus, fonts often change on web pages. Use font changes sparingly.
  6. Underlining and Lines
    1. Underlining is another typewriter technique that has lost much of its purpose in word processing. It ,too, was used to make text stand out, but other techniques in word processing are better
    2. Tips:
      1. Use underlining, possibly in combination with other techniques, to signify deadlines or urgency. Ex: The paper is due May 23rd.
      2. I use underlining and the underlining key (shift-dash) as a quick and dirty way to give lines for signatures, etc. Ex: Write your name: ________________
      3. Use underlining to underline text, don't use it for section breaks.
      4. Use lines to signify section breaks. In word processing, lines are easy to use and have much more flexibility than underlines. I can change the color, thickness, dash, arrowhead, direction and placement of lines much easier than underlines.
      5. Again, be consistent with lines for section breaks. Use the same lines, in the same way, in the same locations (especially in newspapers) across all pages.
      6. Lines in web pages are limited. The line just gets put across the whole page and you cannot modify it. They are still useful for section breaks.
  7. Color
    1. Use text color similar to using bold and font changes. Use it to make text stand out or to signify changes in meaning.
    2. Text color can also really enhance the look of a document.
    3. Tips:
      1. Use text color more for titles than for regular text.
      2. Some colors are very hard to read on a white background, especially yellow.
      3. Color change is worthless if you are printing to a black and white printer. It may even mess your document up because it will change the colored text to shades of gray.
      4. If you are printing the document, make sure to print proof the document first. The colors on the screen often do not match exactly to the color from the printer. How the colors read on the screen is often different than how they will read on paper.
      5. If you are looking for high quality color matching and color printing quality, you need to use professional printing. It is really expensive, much more than we can afford here at school. Be consistent across your document with color changes.
      6. Use it sparingly. Too much color changing on a page can make things difficult to read and looses its emphasis.
      7. Be careful when changing text color to white. It will disappear on a white background or a white sheet of paper.
      8. Since fonts don't work that well in web pages, color changes are used more often in web pages.
  8. Highlighting
    1. Highlighting is another way to get text to stand out. It is a new thing to word processing.
    2. Use the highlighting tool in the formatting toolbar to do it.
    3. Tips:
      1. Use it like a regular pen highlighter, sparingly. If you highlight half the page, what's the point in highlighting?
      2. Make sure the text is still readable within the highlight.
      3. Avoid using different color text and highlighting. The techniques are redundant.
      4. White text in a gray highlight may be easier to read than black text in a gray highlight.
      5. Be careful when printing. If printing to a black and white printer, only use gray highlights. Color highlights will get converted to gray and may make your highlights unreadable. When color printing, proof the document to make sure the highlights are readable.
      6. You cannot highlight on web pages.


Document Formatting

  1. Numbered and Bulleted Lists
  2. Columns
  3. Tables
  4. Borders

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