SFU IT Services
Document Preparation with Acrobat
Page 4 of 18
Creating Readable Documents
A readable document is one that is designed with clear formatting, has a logical layout, uses modern
typefaces, and is transferred into PDF form with the maximum possible quality.
Clear Formatting and Layout
It͛s beyond the scope of this document to describe the process for designing a clear, easy-to-read
document; some of the process is an art, and some of it is technical. We can, however, recommend a
few Best Practices:
Use the Built-In Formatting Styles
Wherever possible, especially in Word 2007 and Word 2010, use the built-in formatting styles (headers,
titles, emphasis, etc) rather than directly applying font sizes, bolding, etc. to text. If you use these styles,
you͛re telling the word processor a lot more than just ͞make these words bigger͟ – you͛re telling it
͞these words are a section header͟, which it can then use to generate a table of contents automatically.
You can also really easily change the entire theme of the document by selecting from the built-in style
sets, and all of your formatting will instantly be updated to the new style.
Use modern typefaces (fonts)
With the release of Word 2007, the old standbys of Arial and Times New Roman were replaced with the
updated Calibri (sans-serif) and Cambria (serif). These typefaces are better designed for display on-
screen, while retaining excellent printed readability. We recommend designing your documents around
these, rather than just going with the familiar.
On the other side, don͛t abuse typefaces! omic Sans and the like may seem ͚fun͛, but they͛re actually
much more difficult to read, especially for a full page of text, and can cause eye strain. Stick with simple
fonts, even for your headers, and use the ͚fun͛ ones sparingly.
Include navigational hints
Including page numbers, section numbers, headers, and footers in your document is highly
recommended. These features offer a lot of information at a quick glance that make it easier for
someone to know what they͛re reading and where they are in the document. Remember, your PDF may
be read on a phone, tablet computer / iPad, laptop, or printed out on paper; depending on how you͛re
distributing it, the end user may even only have a few pages extracted out of the middle!
Including contextual information will ensure that even in the worst cases, people know what they are
looking at, and where they might start looking for a better copy.