Once upon a time, written communication meant a handwritten or typewritten document. With such limited resources it was normal to use underlining and capitals for emphasis. No more. In fact, this is now often perceived to be annoying, or even downright rude!
So what should you do instead? There are many ways to style your content.
In a normal office app like Pages or Word the main formatting tools are bold, italic, caps and underlining. Caps sound as if you are shouting, and underlining now often signifies a hyperlink, so these should be avoided.
Do as designers do
But why not do as designers do, and make yourself some style sheets? These can include styles for:
- Main text
- Indented text
- Bulleted or numbered paragraphs, and more.
Start by styling the main body text (but call it something else like ‘(your name) body text’. Choose a nice font, and change the line spacing to about 1.3 (the default line spacing is often rather mean). From here, go on to establish other styles like titles and subheadings. Each time you repeat a subheading, select the relevant style sheet from your formatting menu and you will guarantee consistency.
Another option available in some apps is highlighting (now being used in yellow by The Guardian as an emphasis tool in their supplements).
What should you do on social media or in texts?
You can break all the rules; use as many emojis and colours as you like! However, for more formal communications, stick to the guidelines above. You will come across as being more professional and ultimately more trustworthy and employable.
About the author
Annette leads the team at Peppis Designworks, a creative hub of established publishing industry experts who create books, branding, marketing material and design templates for leading publishers and businesses. Keep in touch by subscribing to Annette’s bi-monthly emails.