Shortcutting… Formatting

30 May

A lot of the time in life, it’s not the quality of writing that counts: it’s how you format it. Even if you have written a delicate and beautiful description of the song of sparrows in the springtime, or an achingly sad tale of two lovers torn apart by the enmity between their families (for which I congratulate you on your incredibly original plot), no-one will bother reading it if you’ve chosen an ugly font. Ditto ugly bullet points, wrongly aligned text, etc. etc. etc. The list goes on. Now, there is a slight problem with regards to formatting in that tastes vary, but here is what I look for in a piece of writing.

Font: Garamond. You may think Calibri is enough of an improvement on Times New Roman but you’d be wrong. Garamond is the only way to go.

Size: 11 or 12 for body of text, one size bigger for the title.

Titles and subtitles: In bold not underlined (this is really just a personal preference; I know a lot of great people who underline their titles).

Alignment: Justified. There is no bigger turn-off than an essay with a jagged edge. Although I will give you some free rein with regards to titles (anything but Align Right). (N.B. I know some of my posts aren’t justified but I am able to justify this: they were done on my phone, where, as far as I can tell, you can’t justify. I don’t blame you if you can’t bring yourself to read them.)

Bullet points: For me there is no better bullet than that diamond made up of diamonds one. It’s suave and sophisticated, unlike the layman’s black dot or the child’s not-filled-in circle.

Emphasizing wordsItalex. I’ve already mentioned my aversion to underlining, and you can’t use bold within the body of the text if you’re using it for titles and subtitles! Do you want them to think you’re an uneducated slob?

Quotation marks: The ‘single quotation mark’ beats the “double quotation mark” any day of the week. Unless of course you’re trying to distinguish between speech and quotes or someone quoting within speech or something confusing like that, in which case I’ll allow it.

Subscript and superscript: Don’t be lazy. I don’t think I can demonstrate these little above- and under-the-line hoverers here, but cm2 is not the same as cm squared. See also O2 vs. oxygen, and 450 vs. 45 degrees.

So no jagged-edged paragraphs or bullets for bullet points: all that violent formatting will only lead to trouble.

Keep shortcutting,



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