Your business documents are some of the most important aspects of your work. They need to be clear, well-prepared, and thorough.
However, one of the biggest frustrations for any client or anyone reading your documents is vague text and unclear ideas. These errors all contribute to readability. The less readable a document is, the less-than-desired impact it’s going to have.
So what do you think you should remember when you’re preparing business documents so they’re clear and easy to understand?
1. Know What You Want To Say
Make sure you know what you want to say before you write anything. If you don’t know what you intend to write about then you can be sure you’re going to confuse the daylights out of anyone attempting to read it.
2. Use A Good Font
Some fonts aid readability more so than others. Examples of fonts that are easy on the eye include Arial, Times New Roman, and Verdana. These fonts are known to increase readability, making it easier to get your message across clearly.
3. Use Correct Formatting
Formatting can be overlooked but it’s crucial to your document’s overall readability. Don’t use more than 3-4 sentences per paragraph. Don’t bunch your paragraphs.
Use sub-headings where necessary and don’t be afraid to use bullet points. All of these factors are crucial to readability.
4. Make All Actions Clear
Is it very clear and obvious to the reader what action you want them to take? If any?
Don’t overlook this one. If your intention is to get the reader to take a specific action then make sure it’s clearly spelled out in no uncertain terms what that action is.
5. Don’t Make Sentences Too Long
This one can be tricky and determined a lot by the subjectivity of the reader. However, you want to make sure that your sentences aren’t too long and waffle on. Make sure that you aren’t trying to communicate too many ideas all at once in the same sentence.
6. Edit, Edit, Edit!
Before sending your business document to your client or anyone else, make sure you edit it first. Do a simple spell check using your word processing tool or something similar.
Then go through the document and read it aloud. Reading aloud allows you to pick up on mistakes that you miss when you read a document strictly in your head.
If necessary, hire a professional proofreader and editor to go over your document first.
7. Keep It Jargon Free
Think about who your target reader is and then ask yourself, “Will they understand what this means and what I’m talking about?”
If not, rewrite it using clear and jargon-free language. You must remember that many of your clients may not understand business or legal jargon so write to their level. Writing to their level means you can be confident they’ll understand what you’re writing about.
8. Make It “Them-Focused”
What this means is think about who you’re writing for. Make sure that your words are structured to be understood and read by your target reader. Address their concerns, issues and anything else of importance to them.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is making a business document meant for their client ‘me’ focused rather than on them.
9. You Can Use One-Line Paragraphs
You can use them but do it sparingly and only when you want to communicate something important to the reader. The idea is to emphasise the point you’re making when you use a one-line paragraph.
10. Consider The Overall Design
As a rule of thumb, you want to stick to a document with a white background. Readers want to see text on a white background. Any attempt to be fancy by creating a yellow background, blue or similar is only going to look unattractive and distract the reader from what you’re trying to say.
In fact, they’ll probably just give up and won’t even bother reading the document.
Hopefully, this has helped to end any confusion you may have felt about creating business documents. The documents you use daily are a crucial part of your business.
So make it easy for your clients and others within your organisation by creating clear and easy-to-understand documents. Print this blog post off if you have to and distribute it among your team if it will help everyone create great documents.