A few months ago, we published a blog on ‘Formatting to Improve Readability’ which discussed how good formatting makes documents easier to understand, easier to remember and, ultimately, easier to score, all of which adds up to us maximising our chances at winning. That blog explains why we need to professionally format our tender documents. Now, we are publishing a series of blogs on how to professionally format our tender documents using Microsoft Word (version 2016). In these blogs, we’ll provide some beginner instructions on how to tackle everything from page setup, to headings, to bullet points, to captions, as well as some troubleshooting tips to deal with the most common Word frustrations. In this blog, we’re covering Headings.

Why do we use headings?

Headings are crucial for readability because they provide structure and navigation to the document, enabling the reader to keep track of where they are in the document, and provide a clue to what they are about to read. They also help the reader understand if they are delving deeper in to the same topic or changing topics within the document.

There are a number of great ways to use headings within your document. For example, depending on the size and style of the document, a good approach to headings is to include up to 3 levels of headings, with each level being formatted in a less dominant way. The lowest level of heading should still be differentiated and dominant from the body text of the document. I think it is also a good idea to have some spacing separating the headings from the text, using paragraph formatting.

Headings can be styled to differentiate from the body text using any of the following features:

Examples of various headings combining these features in the Styles Pane.

Once you’ve decided what you want your headings to look like, we need to set up the styles in Word. Why use styles? Styles allow us to maintain consistency across the whole document at the click of a button, and to easily change the formatting across the full document by making changes once. Styles in headings also connect to the Table of Contents, so if you want a Table of Contents, you really need to use heading styles. And if set up correctly, the heading styles connect each level of heading to the next, so numbering flows from 1. to 1.1 to 1.1.1 etc.

How to create Headings

1. Find the Styles pane and click the New Style button. Once you click the New Style button you will see the Create New Style from Formatting dialog box.

2. Choose a Style. Choosing an existing style as a base for your heading can save time. The formats from that style are copied over, letting you build upon them, or reuse them in a different way.

3. Type the name for each of your new Headings. For example: Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3.

4. Ensure that Paragraph is chosen for the style type, and you can choose a Heading style as your base.

5. Use the controls in the dialog box to set the style’s format. For an example follow this process and use the Style for following paragraph function to ensure Heading 1, 2, and 3 follow on from the previous in the Styles Pane.

Numbered Headings

In most versions of Microsoft Word there are numbered headings. To create your new numbered heading style:

  1. Choose the existing numbered style and use the controls in the dialog box to create the colours, font and alignments for the numbered heading style you would like to create. In this document, the levels of our numbered headings are formatted in a less dominant way with the choice of colours.
  2. To create your numbered heading(s) follow steps 2 to 5 from Table 2 with the existing numbered heading styles.
  3. In the dialog box underneath the formatting section choose your font. For this document we have kept Arial as our font and made the font Bold, so our numbered styles have definition on the page.
  4. Finally, click on the Format Button in the left corner of the dialog box and go to the Paragraph and to Tab sections to set the placement of the numbered heading on the page.

Bold Coloured Heading

Vibrant headings in our documentation can help our audience navigate to crucial sections and information. To create this heading:

  1. Select the Heading 1, h1 style already created in Microsoft Word.
  2. Follow steps 2 to 5 from Table 2 with the existing Heading 1, h1
  3. In the dialog box underneath the Formatting section choose your font, size and colour. For this document we have chosen Calibri and have made the font bold teal and large.

For this document we have our heading aligned right. To do this click on the Format Button in the left corner of the dialog box and go to the Paragraph and to Tab sections to set the placement of your heading on the page.

Boxed Headings

There are so many functions within Microsoft Word that we can create headings in many ways. There is no hard and fast rule, and there is nothing better than having creative licence.

Boxed headings can be created by follow steps 2 to 5 from Table 2 and using formatting options within the dialog box so that they are embedded in the Styles Pane and link to the Table of Contents. However, for a one-off box heading that has no link to the Table of Contents we can also do the following:

  1. Go to the ribbon in Word and insert a text box.
  2. Go to the Format Tab and chose the colour to fill the text box and the outline of the text box.
  3. Choose the font you would like and position the text box to where it is visually appealing.

Finally format your text within the document / template to ensure the document flows.

Headings are quite tricky and lots of finicky things can go awry, so feel free to give us a call if you need assistance in setting up templates or formatting your tenders and corporate documents on 07 3211 4299 or email us here.

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