With our lesson on document design, technical writing takes a major leap away from other college English courses. In composition or literature courses, the only design aspects you need to use include 1-inch margins, 12 point type, double spaced lines, a proper heading, your last name and page number in the upper right corner, and the details of a works cited page. That standard was set by the major organization of English professors, the Modern Language Association. It is used to bring everyone to the same standard, so everyone’s assignments will look the same. Uniformity is the goal because it is functional–if we know where to look for the student’s name, we can find it on any assignment following this format.

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Document Design
With our lesson on document design, technical writing takes a major leap away from
other college English courses. In composition or literature courses, the only design
aspects you need to use include 1-inch margins, 12 point type, double spaced lines, a
proper heading, your last name and page number in the upper right corner, and the
details of a works cited page.
That standard was set by the major organization of English professors, the Modern
Language Association. It is used to bring everyone to the same standard, so everyone’s
assignments will look the same. Uniformity is the goal because it is functional–if we
know where to look for the student’s name, we can find it on any assignment following
this format.
However, that design is only for academic writing, only for the classroom.
For nonacademic writing–such as technical writing and on-the-job writing–you must
employ other formats to engage your audience and persuade them to read your
document.
Remember that classroom writing has a trapped audience–the teachers and professors
are obligated to read the assignments. Students don’t have to persuade them to read
their documents. However, that viewpoint changes outside the classroom.
Outside the classroom, we have to persuade our readers actually to read our
documents, even to pick up our documents. That persuasion starts with a careful
analysis of audience, which we covered in week 2. Then we craft our sentences with
concise, active voice constructions, as we learned in week 3. Now we will arrange the
text, causing that arrangement to add meaning and persuasion to our documents.
To accomplish this goal, we design our pages to be persuasive by manipulating
whitespace, headings, variations in print size and style, symmetrical balance, and
appropriate use of color.

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The sections listed below will explain the standard methods used to create documents
that have good design:
● Be consistent
● Key in on the audience
● Determine how the readers will read this document
● Keep cultural concepts in mind

Page 1

ENGL2311
Technical & Business Writing
Instructor: Jason Bleistein

● Choose a page layout
● Use visual typographic cues
● Choose your point size
● Choose an appropriate font
● Use lists for details
● Use white space
● Use lines, boxes, and shading
● Add color
● Incorporate useful illustrations
● Add symbols, icons, cartoon clip art
● Remember the basic guidelines
Examples at the end of the document:
● Poor Formatting Example
● Better Formatting Example
● Excellent Formatting
Be consistent
When no specific rule applies, then apply the rule of consistency.
For example, no rule applies as to whether headings should have only the first word
capitalized or all words capitalized except articles (a, an, the) and prepositions (of, by,
in, with, etc.). Therefore, the rule of consistency applies: pick one style and stay with it
throughout a document.

Key in on the audience
● Analyze your readers according to the Audience Analysis checklist
● Make your document appropriate to your audience’s environment. For example, if
they are going to use your document while putting together an appliance and
standing several feet away from the document, make the type size big enough to
see from 4 feet away.
● Use good technical style (see Style Lesson).
● Use appropriate conventions for your organization or readers. For example, if
your readers are familiar with abbreviations or acronyms, you may use them. If
they are not familiar with them, don’t use them.

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Page 2

ENGL2311
Technical & Business Writing
Instructor: Jason Bleistein

Determine how the readers will read
● Detail–reading every single word–less formatting required
● Scan–quickly reading the document–more formatting required
● Search–looking for specific desired information–more formatting required

Keep cultural concepts in mind
English readers in particular:
● Read from left to right
● Read from top to bottom
● Think that items in the center are more important that things on the sides
● Think that items in the foreground are more important than things in the
background
● Perceive that bigger items are more important than smaller items
● Think thicker lines are more important than thinner lines
● Think the busiest areas on a page contain the most important information
● Think that things are related in some way if they are the same size, shape,
location and/or color
● Will see certain items better if they contrast with their surroundings
Choose a page layout
You can choose the
● Number of columns
● Ragged right margin (preferred) or justification
● Line length (shorter lines of text are better, such as 4-5 inches)
● Appropriate layout for type of document
Use visual typographic cues
● Use headings to:
○ Announce subject of the section
○ Show the organization
○ Accommodate search readers
○ Accommodate selective readers
● Engage the reader by using
○ Headings

Page 3

ENGL2311
Technical & Business Writing
Instructor: Jason Bleistein

● Create diverse page appearance by
○ Boldface
○ Italic
○ Large
○ Combination
○ Not ALL CAPS–they’re hard to read
○ Not Underlined–they’re hard to read
○ Opposite style of serif /sans serif (headings in serif [such as Times
Roman] and text in sans serif [such as Arial], or vice versa)
○ Create hierarchy by using different style and size. See below.
Hierarchy
Main information — Also called “level one” headings
Sub-information — Also called “level two” headings
Sub-sub-information — Also called “level three” headings
● Make hierarchy obvious by using left-hanging headings. A Left-Hanging
Heading is a heading that is flush with the left margin. All text underneath
the heading, such as paragraphs or lists, is indented one tab stop.
● Keep headings flush with the left margin–don’t ‘tab’ or ‘indent’ for
subheadings
● Don’t stack headings (one heading on top of another without any regular
text between). See this page for an example of stacked headings.
● Never punctuate headings–they are not followed by colons, dashes, or
any other punctuation mark unless they are question headings
● Are usually formatted with either
● A double space (pressing the ENTER key 2 times) before the heading and
after
● the heading
● A triple space (pressing the ENTER key 3 times) before the heading and a
● double space after the heading

Page 4

ENGL2311
Technical & Business Writing
Instructor: Jason Bleistein

Websites for headings
These websites contain good information.. Also, this information covers online
documentation, but most of it also applies to paper copies, or hard copies. Skip the
Reading Quizzes and all figures on the “headings” page. Do look at Parallelism.
● http://www.prismnet.com/~hcexres/textbook/headings.html
● http://www.prismnet.com/~hcexres/textbook/page_design.html
Choose your point size
Text is measured in points. Experiment with it so that you can become familiar with it. In
your word processing program, type a few lines. Highlight it, and then choose different
sizes of type.
Choose at least 12-point type. Anything smaller is difficult to read. Remember that if
your readers will be standing a few feet away from the page, they will need a point size
that is readable.
Choose an appropriate font
“Font” is a printing term defined as the style of the typeface. For example, this sentence
is in Times New Roman font. This sentence is in Arial. This sentence is in Courier. As
you can see, each font has a style or personality. Not all fonts are appropriate for all
occasions. Imagine the inappropriateness of a million-dollar business proposal written in
Brush Script and a children’s birthday party invitation written in Old English.
Fonts are either serif or sans serif. The serif typeface has small strokes, sometimes
called “feet,” added to the ends of each letter, like this Times Roman font. The sans
serif typeface does not have the small strokes, like the Arial font. Usually serif fonts are
good for longer documents (two or more pages) but either is acceptable for shorter
documents. Reading studies indicate that serif fonts are easier to read and aid the recall
of information for longer documents but that there is no difference between the two for
shorter documents. Of course, this information is subject to change depending on which
study you read. Either rule is acceptable.
Keep the same font throughout the text of a document. An exception to this rule is when
one font is used for headings and another for the text.

Page 5

ENGL2311
Technical & Business Writing
Instructor: Jason Bleistein

Please keep this in mind when using fonts. Stick to Arial or even Times New Roman
when writing documents (and when creating assignments). Your word processing
software should default to a TrueType font.
Use lists for details
Use lists for a series of items, actions, etc., instead of using a paragraph. Lists are
effective because they:
● Emphasize details
● Accommodate comprehension of details
● Appear in parallel grammatical form (see below)
● Include elements to distinguish items in the list but don’t overuse them
○ numbers (1, 2, 3 on instructions/procedures only)
○ bullets
○ asterisk * dash -, –
○ ® © TM
● Require alignment
Read this website for more information about lists:
http://www.prismnet.com/~hcexres/textbook/lists.html
Websites for parallelism
On the Wilbers website, follow the links to exercises and take the quiz to see how well
you do. Let me know if you have questions. Also, follow the links to the other columns
that seem interesting to you.
● http://www.wilbers.com/part40.htm
Use white space
White space is extremely important. If information is crowded on the page, people don’t
want to read the document. Leave the reader room to move around and to breathe.
Effective use of white space in a document:
● Avoids a text-heavy appearance
● Separates information
● Makes your page appealing and persuasive
● Establishes hierarchy
● Directs the reader

Page 6

ENGL2311
Technical & Business Writing
Instructor: Jason Bleistein

Use lines, boxes, shading
Using lines, boxes, and shading in your document:
● Highlights information
● Separates information
● Is effective if used sparingly
Add color
Color in a document:
● Highlights information
● Adds interest and vitality to a document
● Should be consistent
● Should show that the writer has a plan for using the color
○ Don’t use a different color on every heading. If you use 2 colors,
○ coordinate them in some way, such as major headings in blue and
subheadings in a contrasting color, such as red.
○ Keep your colors in the same grouping (unofficial non-artist’s terminology
here). For example, use primary colors (red, blue), pastels (but only if they
show up well), warm colors (reds, oranges), cool colors (blues, greens),
etc.
○ Choose also from monochromes (various shades of a color, such as dark
blue, medium blue, light blue)
○ Remember that light colors are sometimes difficult to read, both on screen
and printed

● Should be used sparingly and with purpose
Incorporate useful illustrations
Use illustrations if they will be helpful to the audience.
Make them appropriate to your audience. Consider the level of difficulty, technicality,
etc., of the item or task being illustrated.
We’ll discuss illustrations more when we cover instructions.
Add symbols, icons, clipart
If your audience is familiar with certain symbols or icons, you may use them. For
example, if you want to insert a symbol of a telephone next to the number to call with
Page 7

ENGL2311
Technical & Business Writing
Instructor: Jason Bleistein

questions, your audience would be able to use the document more easily. Make sure
these items are big enough to see clearly.
Don’t overuse these items. The basic rule is to include them when they directly aid the
audience in understanding the document. If they are merely for decoration, omit them.
For example, clip art that is merely for decoration would be a stack of books on a
syllabus to fill the white space at the bottom of the page. However, if clipart of a book
was used to note reading assignments, it would be functional.
Personally, I’m not a fan of clip art. They seem very early internet kitschy and scream
1999 to me. I’m not going to grade you based on the graphics that you use, but I’d like
to suggest that you use a free stock photo site (https://www.pexels.com/) to see if you
can find something to suit your needs. These are usually categorized and searchable by
keywords.
Remember the basic guidelines
Documentation should be simple so that it is easier to read. If the document is busy with
graphics, charts, graphs, tables, etc., the reader will be lost in all the gobbledygook
(professional term) and discard the document.

Note
Examples begin on the next page and the assignment begins on page 12.

Page 8

ENGL2311
Technical & Business Writing
Instructor: Jason Bleistein

Poor Formatting Example

WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Law provides compensatory payments to employees
for disabilities that are related to employment. The law defines benefits which are intended to
cover most of the employee’s resulting economic loss, to provide income benefits to survivors,
and to cover medical expenses. The law also requires Pennsylvania employers to have
insurance (or be self-insured) for these liabilities. Therefore, Fitch Manufacturing provides
benefits for injuries or disease resulting from work at Fitch Manufacturing under a workers’
compensation and employer’s liability policy with the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association
Insurance Company.
Workers’ Compensation benefits are two kinds: 1. cash benefits including income benefits for
temporary or permanent disabilities, impairment benefits for partial (scheduled disabilities) and

  1. income benefits for survivors in cases of fatalities. There is a seven day waiting period for
    income benefits. However, if the disability lasts longer than fourteen days, income benefits are
    then paid retroactively to the date of the injury. The income benefit in Pennsylvania is set at
    66-2/3 percent of the disabled employee’s wages. The law also designates minimum and
    maximum weekly payments based on the claimant statewide average weekly wage (the current
    minimum is $66 per full week and the maximum is $242 per full week). Medical benefits are not
    limited in any way by Pennsylvania law for a work related injury or occupational disease;
    medical benefits begin immediately.
    The Pennsylvania law also establishes a time limit within which injuries or occupational
    diseases must be reported to an employer. Under this provision, compensation will be paid
    based on the date of the injury only if the injury is reported to Fitch Manufacturing within 21 days
    of its occurrence. After 21 days, compensation will begin based on when the report is made.
    The law bars compensation for any injury or disease reported more than 120 days after the
    occurrence, and it bars all claims in three years after the injury, death, or last compensation
    payment. It is important, therefore, to be sure that the reporting requirements described in the
    section on safety policy are observed in the event of any work-related injury or illness.
    Fitch Manufacturing bears the full cost of this benefit.

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How Our Website Works

1. FILL IN OUR SIMPLE ORDER FORM

It has never been easier to place your order. Fill in the initial requirements in the small order form located on the home page and press “continue” button to proceed to the main order form or press “order” button in the header menu. Starting from there let our system intuitively guide you through all steps of ordering process.

2. PROCEED WITH THE PAYMENT

All your payments are processed securely through PayPal. This enables us to guarantee a 100% security of your funds and process payments swiftly.

3. WRITER ASSIGNMENT

Next, we match up your order details with the most qualified freelance writer in your field.

4. WRITING PROCESS

Once we have found the most suitable writer for your assignment, they start working on a masterpiece just for you!

5. DELIVERY

Once finished, your final paper will be available for download through your personal dashboard. You will also receive an email notification with a copy of your paper attached to it. Sometimes, the writer may leave a note for you about the order in case there is any additional information that they need to give you.

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