Visual Design of Your Message: Consistency, Balance, Restraint & Detail

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  • 0:02 Visual Design of Message
  • 0:50 Consistency
  • 3:01 Balance
  • 3:52 Restraint
  • 4:36 Detail
  • 5:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
The visual design of your message is critical to the successful delivery of your ideas. Consistency, balance, restraint and detail are the four key areas that need to be addressed to allow a professional impression of your work.

Good Visual Design of Message

The impact of a message does not just rely on written words, but also on the visual design of your message. Design elements can lend much needed assistance in presenting your ideas. They can help with the effectiveness of your delivery and the perception of the message through nonverbal cues.

Bonnie has just completed one of the most important papers she has ever written for her job. She works for Pear Products, a high-technology company in Seattle. She wants to gain corporate acceptance for her idea of a new product. The product allows the users to read other people's thoughts.

There are four specific areas of design that Bonnie needs to address in order to make her paper credible and professional-looking. We are going to watch her design the finishing touches of her paper for business consumption.


First, Bonnie will analyze the consistency, or the conformity, of her paper with the following elements: margins, typeface, typestyle, colors, etc. This is a very important area of visual design as it lends itself to the overall first impression. Bonnie tends to use a standard setup for all of her business communications, such as font size of 12 and one inch margins. These are a few other specifics that Bonnie follows when setting up her documents.

Margins are the spaces around the text and sides of a paper. Most papers that are not used for business utilize a justified, or aligned both left and right. This is a formal method that allows a great amount of words to be typed on each line. The problem though is that it can also cut words inappropriately in half and lead to more difficult reading.

The best margin setup for business documents is the use of Flush-Left, or aligned to the left and ragged to the right. This way the text looks more modern and there is less need for words to be hyphenated. Bonnie has decided to use this type of formatting for her paper.

The second area of consistency is the use of typeface, or the design of letters and numbers. The style of typeface can influence the tone of your correspondence. For example, some typefaces are more formal while others add more flow and present a casual mood. Times New Roman and Arial are standard, accepted typefaces for business documents. The fonts are easy to read and increase the professional look of documents. Bonnie's choice of typeface for her report is Times New Roman.

Typestyle, or the use of bolding, underlining, etc., can also help add to the visual punch of a document. For example, the bolding of words can attract the attention of the reader to important highlights. It is important to not overuse typestyle as it can actually backfire on the writer and cause the total loss of interest to the reader if the document appears too busy. In her paper, Bonnie has bolded key words to introduce sections such as financial summary, side-effects of using product and schedule of product delivery.


Another key element of the visual design of a paper is the use of balance, or distributing the text and graphic elements evenly to create an eye-pleasing look. Some papers use just columns or paragraphs, while other have a layout that encompasses complex graphical design elements such as charts and graphs, photos, etc. Bonnie had to embed sketches of the product along with bar charts showing profitability and feasibility studies. The use of balance is based on the distribution of white space, or blank parts of the paper.

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