Designing a document is not just about making a page look pretty: an effective design is crafted in both form and content to help an audience understand your purpose in writing. However, creating a visually striking and credible design is not always easy. When making design choices, the HATS acronym can be useful. HATS stands for “Headings”, “Access”, “Typography” and “Spacing”.
An effective design is crafted in both form and content to help an audience understand your purpose in writing.
The pages above go into greater detail on the different aspects of good document design. For an example of a digital document, with annotations on the different aspects of document design that it incorporates, click here.
Here is a guide from Purdue owl on professional writing including the HATS acronym.
How to Create and Customize Headings in Microsoft Word – This video outlines how to use the heading manager in Microsoft Word, and discusses why the tool is important to use in designing documents.
Google Docs: Headers and Footers – This is a good resource for formatting your documents through Google Docs with easy and clear “headers”.
Unsplash – A huge repository of high resolution photos that can be freely used in any project, no permission required.
GIMP – If you don’t want to buy Photoshop, check out GIMP. It’s a free program for manipulating graphics that can fulfill many of Photoshop’s functions.
Canva – A website that allows you to make large infographics easily. Infographics can be useful for summarizing the findings of reports and presenting all kinds of data visually.
Snappa – A visual design service that is run completely online. You can pay for a monthly service, but a free account offers over five thousand templates to use.
Google Fonts – Google’s own collection of fonts and typefaces. The website allows you to test various properties of fonts including “weight”, “thickness” and the like. All of the fonts available are free to download and use in your own writing.
Practical Typography – An entire book of helpful rules and guidelines on good typography. There’s an option to pay for the material, but you can access the text online for free.
The Power of White Space – The Interaction Design Foundation’s guide on the various ways you can use white space effectively in an online document, including discussions of various types of white space, like “macro” and “micro”.
Negative Space in Graphic Design – An article and helpful infographic defining negative space and outlining its importance in web design. This site also provides some basic examples in logo design and art.