Learn about the “text don’ts” to improve your professionalism.
If you were to blur your text or to replace your text with lore ipsum, would your reader know which items are priorities? Is your information appealing to skimmers as well as the thorough readers? Is your text formatting working for or against you? What does this topic have to do with your professionalism?
Everything! Corporations are accustomed to a certain standard and format of doing business. If information representing your company is different than the norm, they will notice. But there needs to be a good reason that they value for being different.
Let’s focus on simple text formatting because this is a dead giveaway that can make you look like a beginner.
To put this into perspective, if you are a balloon twister, do you cut off the nozzles and tuck them in to tidy up the piece? Yes. As a decorator do you measure the balloons to make sure they are uniform? Yes. As a professional of any sort, do you show up ready with your business cards in your pocket ready to listen to the customer? Yes. Just like the previous examples, text formatting is one of the many details you want to do right to look polished.
Whether you are working on Microsoft Word to draft your proposal or you are creating copy for your website. If you want to be considered by the corporate market, then keep reading.
The goal is to make your information easy to read and understand. Plus you want to look like a legitimate company who understands company norms. Disclaimer: writing is not my forte, but formatting is. Let’s start with the “Don’ts.”
Don’t use underlines if they are not hyperlinks. Underlines are old school from over fifteen years ago. Modern folks don’t use underlines in the day to day copy. We associate hyperlinks with them. In fact, it is frustrating if you see an underlined word, but when you click on it, it doesn’t take you anywhere. Lame! Underlines should only be used for hyperlinks.
Don’t use 16+ point font size unless these are titles or your market is senior citizens. Large writing is used for seniors or for children. Your buyers are not kids and they probably are not seniors, so give them text they are accustomed to reading. Otherwise, you look like you don’t know your audience.
DON’T USE CAPITALS! UNLESS YOU REALLY MEAN IT! USING CAPITALS IS LIKE YELLING AT YOUR AUDIENCE. THINK OF THE CRAZY GUY DOWNTOWN WHO IS CONSTANTLY YELLING ABOUT WHY CATS SHOULD BE ABLE TO VOTE. AFTER A MINUTE, YOU HAVE FILTERED AND TUNED HIM OUT. IF HE WERE TO YELL SOMETHING IMPORTANT, YOU WOULD MISS IT BECAUSE THERE IS NO EMPHASIS, NO DIFFERENCE IN HIS TONE.
HAVE YOU RECEIVED EMAILS FROM NIGERIAN PRINCEs..…… ASKING YOU IF TO ACCEPT HALF OF HIS FORTUNE IF YOU GIVE HIM 10% UP FRONT? WHEN I THINK OF CAPITALS, THAT IS WHAT IT REMINDS ME OF. IN MOST CASES CAPITALS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE TO USE.
YOU MIGHT USE CAPITALS IF YOU ARE FRUSTRATED AT THE WORLD AND YOU ARE SWEARING AT THE BOSS THAT YOU QUIT. ANOTHER THING, IT’S OBNOCXIOUS TO READ. IT’S NOT WHAT WE DO HERE. UNLESS IT ONE WORD OR A TITLE—NO CAPITALS!
Exclamations! Use these sparingly. These cool looking punctuation tools can be abused and lose their significance when over used. Kind of like your friend who says everything is “amazing!” or your friend Cindy who thinks everyone is sooooo nice. The spectrum of amazing and nice is null. There is no gauge. For all of these instances, their over usage means nothing. I too, have these friends that are not helpful in giving any feedback because everything is an exclamation.
Avoid the don’ts. Here are the do’s. When your audience is reading about your company, you need to point out priorities. Face it people may not spend much time thinking about your company, so help guide them. Prioritize the points, and then format accordingly. To emphasize points, use bold, center alignment, small caps, shading, lines and color. The priority order should be clear with few occurrences per page. Use your font formatting wisely. These rules apply to emailS too. Remember, all of these little things reflect on your company.