Writing E-Tips
October 2004   
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"An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance."

-- Laurence J. Peter   

Using Graphics in Business Documents, Part I

     In our September newsletter, we examined how to best use design in business documents. This month we will begin looking at how to use different kinds of graphics in those documents. Graphics can add clarity and emphasis to your writing by . . .

  • grabbing the reader's attention;
  • making information more readable;
  • simplifying complex ideas;
  • dramatizing important points; and
  • condensing information.

Basic Guidelines for Using Graphics

     The writing process should be used when preparing graphics as well as when creating text. Use the following guidelines to help you create effective graphics.


  1. Understand your purpose and your audience. Know what you need to communicate and to whom.
  2. Select your graphics carefully. Use graphics that will best convey your ideas.


  1. Plan your graphics. Decide what titles, captions, and labels you might need.
  2. Sketch out your graphics. Use your computer or draw them by hand. Decide where to place colors and labels.


  1. Check your ideas and details. Be sure the data in your graphics is correct.
  2. Consider the visual interest. Is each graphic realistic and clear?


  1. Proofread for wording in both the text and the graphics. Check spelling, punctuation, and mechanics.
  2. Examine your visual message. Are the colors inviting? Do design elements help explain your ideas, or do they distract from the message?

Coming Soon from UpWrite Press--a new generation of onsite training!
Watch for this exciting new concept in business writing workshops to be unveiled at the Training and Online Learning Show in San Francisco October 10-13. For more information, please call 262-763-8258 x10 or x17, or visit us online at www.upwritepress.com.

Integrating Graphics into Text

     Use the following tips to help you seamlessly incorporate your graphics into a text document. Remember, your goal is to create an eye-pleasing page that clearly presents information.

  1. Decide on your page design. Consider the amount of text you have as well as the space needed for the graphic. Experiment with your design. You can place a single graphic within a traditional page or in a two-column setup.
    layout Alayout B

          If you have more than one graphic, you may wish to dedicate an entire column to them.

layout C

  1. Be conscious of eye-appeal. Use white space around both the text and the graphics. Position graphics vertically on the page whenever possible, and place them in boxes.
  2. Place your graphics in a logical position. Keep the graphic near the text to which it is related. If the graphic is very large, it might require its own page, preferably facing the page with the original reference.
  3. Don’t leave a graphic hanging. Include any labels or commentary necessary to help readers understand the graphic.

The preceding tips are from
Write for Business:
A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating

Learn more about integrating graphics into business documents on pages 161-171 in Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating.

Coming in the November Issue:
Tips for using specific types of graphics in
“Using Graphics in Business Documents, Part II”

Write for Business: A Compact Guide to Writing and Communicating
is available for purchase at 1-800-261-0637 ext. 10,
or on the Web by clicking here.

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