Alright, welcome to the third installment of the RFI Template Series! So far we’ve touched on the information you need and how to begin choosing the look of your RFI. Today we’re going to cover fonts – which, technically is still a part of the look, but it deserves its own post. What can be said about fonts? Oh so much. But in the interest of not boring you I’m going to stick to a few highlights and then introduce you to the Styles Tool in Microsoft Word. Let’s do this.
Serif vs Sans-Serif Fonts
Google just introduced their new logo this week and they’ve made a significant change, switching from a serif font to a sans-serif font. What the heck am I talking about? Serif fonts include decorative little flourishes or “feet,” as they are sometimes called, and hearken back to “ye olde” word processing days when Times New Roman was THE font to use. Sans-serif fonts nix the flourishes and have clean lines.
Why should you care? Well there is research showing that sans-serif fonts are easier on the eyes and increase reading speed and comprehension by as much as 25%. This especially bears out in electronic media as sans-serif fonts are supposed to be easier to read on a screen.
What does this mean for you? For the main text of your RFI template, stick with using a sans-serif font. Examples of sans-serif fonts include: Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, Tahoma, and Verdana. This doesn’t mean you can’t use serif fonts, but the best place to use them (if you really love a serif font) is in your headings.
Sidenote: If you’re still using Times New Roman (TNR) in all your documents, it might be time to update your default font. TNR is considered outdated and, just like a leisure suit, people generally don’t want to look at it.
When picking your font sizes, be careful that you don’t go too small or too large with them. A 12pt font is a good place to start for the main body of your RFI response. However, depending on the font you choose, it may make sense to use 11pt or 13pt. For example, Arial tends to be a larger font and I find 12pt Arial to be a bit much. Dialing Arial down to 11pt keeps it legible without being overpowering.
I don’t recommend dropping below 10pt unless it is for a footnote or a source.
Headings can be anywhere from 25% to 150% larger than your main body font.
The Styles Font Tool in Microsoft Word
When it comes to formatting the fonts in a document it can be a tedious and time consuming process. The Styles tool simplifies this process and Lynda.com has produced a super video to explain. Cliff notes version: the Styles tool can take a 50+ step process and simplify it to about 4 steps.
The Styles tool is found on the Home Ribbon of Microsoft Office starting with the 2007 Office version. It looks like this:
To begin using the Styles tool, open this word document (it’s just filled with random text so don’t focus on the info) and do the following:
- Select “Heading 1” and then click on the “Heading 1” option in the Styles Tool. The appearance of your heading should change to match the style you clicked.
- Do the same with “Heading 2” and “Heading 3,” matching them up with the respective headings in the Styles Tool. Notice they now have the same formatting as the style you selected.
- Select the first paragraph and notice that the “Normal” style is highlighted in the Styles tool. The “Normal” style is essentially your default font. You’ll notice that, in this document, it is a serif font with decorative little flourishes and we want to change that. There are two approaches you can use:
- With the first paragraph highlighted, use the standard Font tools and select the Arial font. You’ll notice that the font size is at 11pt. Drop it to 10pt. To update the “Normal” style with the changes you just made, right click on the “Normal” style and select “Update Normal to Match Selection.” When you do this, the “Normal” style will change throughout your document to match the changes you made in the first paragraph.
- Okay, let’s say I want to bump the font size back up to 11pt. We’re going to use an alternate way to do this (however, you can always use the process we just used). Go to the “Normal” Style in the Style tool, right click, and select “Modify.” The Modify Style window will open and from here you can edit everything about this font. You can even change paragraph settings by clicking on the “Format” drop-down at the bottom left of the window. For now, change the font size to 11pt and click Ok. This change will occur throughout the whole document.
- Now, play around with the different headings and modify them. Try using different colors or change the spacing before or after the headings.
How did that work for you? In case it would be easier to follow along with a video, here is another great video from Lynda.com:
Or you could try this video too: Why use Styles & Tutorial for Office 2013
I really encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Styles tool because we’ve got a guest post coming up in a couple weeks that will focus on the Navigation Pane and how you can use that in conjunction with the Styles tool to easily revise your RFI response. It really is slick. In the meantime, any questions? Comments? Let me know!