Using a creative layout for your words

Sometimes you can creatively place your words on the page. The effect is to draw your reader to that information.

For example, a simple table can clearly show your logic. Here's one showing options for producing a large, complex report:

Option Advantages Disadvantages

Do it manually.

No computer costs.

Takes forever.

Give everybody a big, powerful, expensive computer to process the data.

People get reports more quickly.

High cost of computers.

Give everybody a less powerful, cheaper computer AND one big, powerful, expensive computer for the entire group.

People get reports more quickly AND costs are cheaper.

None.

This logic table makes the writer's point much more quickly than the same ideas in a few paragraphs.

Here's another example of a creative way to presen t words. In this case, a woman is describing her position as a "floater" in a law office's secretarial pool:

F flexibility. This is the key to being effective. I sit at a secretary's station surrounded by that person's equipment and that person's organization of files. My job is to familiarize myself with these as quickly as possible.

L legal secretarial skills. I must be able to type quickly (at least 80 wpm), take shorthand, and use the computer network efficiently.

O other duties as assigned. I have performed such duties as notarizing documents, inventorying supplies, boxing files for storage, and logging in billing information.

A ability to work every machine. I must be able to use the many different computers as well as more than one kind of copier, fax machine, transcriber, etc.

T telephone savvy. For those attorneys who do not answer their telephone lines, I have to know when it is appropriate to interrupt to announce an incoming call.

E editing skills. Much of my work involves correcting an attorney's product.

R receptionist skills. On rare occasions, I sit in for one of our four receptionists. I dislike this job the most. If I hear they are looking for someone to cover the phones, I hide out in the bathroom!

Using a highlighted example

The highlighted example is another way to present words in a more visual way. Here's the illustration that accompanied a description of "National Stock Number":

Digits 1 - 4: Federal Stock Class

Digits 1 - 4: Federal Stock Class

Digits 5-13:

National Item Identification Number country code serial number

Digits 5-13:

National Item Identification Number country code serial number

The writer then explained each part of the number and gave an example. The labels at the bottom—"country code" and "serial number"—are "callouts." They point to information on an illustration and are extremely useful.

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