Is Your Document Clear? A Checklist

Is Your Document Clear? A Checklist

This is a brief checklist to help you make sure that your document is easy, enjoyable, and rewarding to use.

Layout—does this look readable and informative?

__ Easy to see where to start.

__ Paragraphs are short.

__ Blocks of text are broken up by white space.

__ Bullet points are used where appropriate.

__ Type is large enough.

__ Type is dark enough and has enough contrast for legibility.

__ No more than 3 typefaces (fonts).

__ Any decorative typefaces (fonts) are legible.


Headings—are they helpful?

__ Headings are brief, informative and useful.

__ Headings provide a clear map through the document.

__ Headings stand out from the rest of the content.


Content—is it clear and concise?

__ Content is written for and to your audience.

__ Your audience will understand what you want them to do or know as a result of reading your document.

__ Organisation: order of presentation makes sense to your audience.

__ Words are simple and precise.

__ Verbs are active.

__ No extra words (reallyveryquitehowever).

__ No filler phrases (at this point in timeplease don’t hesitate to).

__ Acronyms and abbreviations are spelled out the first time they appear.

__ Sentences are short and clear.

__ Tone is positive. (What to do rather than what not to do.)

__ Tone is courteous and respectful of your audience.

__ All relevant information is included (names, dates, locations, resources).

__ Facts and references have been checked.


Images—do they support the content?

__ Images are sufficient resolution. (If your document will be printed, run a sample first, because images can look different in print than on your monitor.)

__ Images are clearly captioned in legible type.

__ Images add to the content by illustrating or explaining.

__ Images do not distract the reader or make the document hard to read.

__ Images are appropriate to the content and your audience.

__ You have permission and copyrights to use the images.


Review & User Testing

__ You spell-checked the document, including headings, titles and summaries.

__ You had the document read out loud to you by a human or computer.

__ You double-checked proper names and words that get past spell-check (like ad where you mean and).

__  You got 1-5 people who are typical of your audience to read and give feedback on the document. (Ask them to do functional things, like “Find out when the conference opens” rather than asking qualitative questions such as “Do you like it?”)

__ All links and page references are correct.



Lucinda Atwood is a master teacher who is serious about happiness. She taught herself how to be happy, and wants to share that gift with you.
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