Jake VanderVaate

Document layout best practices

The short version

Here’s the short version of what I usually recommend for professional documents:

  1. Left align all headings and body text
  2. Create visual hierarchy with the size of headings and text

The long version

Left align text

Centered text can be hard to read, especially when used multiple lines in a row.

In English, we read from left to right, so aligning all the text to the left gives the reader a reliable place for their eyes to look everytime they start reading a new line.

Create a visual hierarchy

Use text size, weight, and emphasis to create a visual hierarchy.

This means that the highest-level heading on any document should be the largest, and size should progressively decrease until the last heading. Body text should be a “neutral” size, in the 10-12 point range.