15 Ways To Make Investment Reports Easier To Read

August 18, 2015

by Joyce Walsh

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You put on your best outfit for client and marketing meetings. Your offices are well appointed, reflecting the professional culture of your firm. Then you pass the presentation materials around. The font is quirky and informal. In places it’s too small for some clients to read comfortably. With the flip of a page, your chance of making a positive first impression is lost.

Most of us don’t think much about fonts, but they make a big difference in how your clients respond to the information you want to convey. Researchers at MIT found that good typography not only improved the readers’ moods, but subjects also underestimated the time it took to read the assigned text.[i] So before you default to whatever font choice comes with your software package, consider these 15 time-tested design strategies that will help you make a font selection that gives you the best advantage in client reports and marketing materials.

To serif or not to serif?

The first step in producing professional-quality presentations and reports is to identify the best font for the task at hand. There are two types of fonts: serif and sans serif. Serif fonts have “serifs” – those little notches at the ends of letters. Times New Roman is a common serif font. Sans serif fonts don’t have those embellishments. Arial is an example of a sans serif font.

Serif fonts

Serif fonts convey a sense of dignity and authority. With origins dating back to early days of print, they add a traditional feel to the text. Those little serifs in the lettering help pull the reader through the material, making them perfect for longer reports that are meant to be read in print.

Sans serif fonts

Sans serif fonts became indispensable in the Internet era. Clean and simple, they are easy to read in digital formats. Sans serif fonts are perfect for PowerPoint slides or material meant for online reading.

Since you likely use a mixture of print and online material in your practice, which type of font should you go for? Your best option is to choose one of each. With a good sans serif and serif font in your toolkit, your readers will stay engaged no matter how you deliver the information. And you can mix them up within a document to add variety, too.

Use the following strategies for combining your two font types in presentations and reports:

Strategy 1: Never use more than two fonts in one document.

Strategy 2: Never use two serif fonts or two sans serif fonts in the same document. This may cause visual confusion.

Strategy 3: For printed material, use the serif font for the main body, and add variety by using the sans serif font for subtitles, call-outs, sidebars, and captions for charts and graphs.

Strategy 4: For online or screen viewing, use the sans serif font for the main body copy, and add variety by using a serif font for subtitles, call-outs and sidebars.

[i] Kevin Larson and Rosalind Picard. ”The Aesthetics of Reading.”

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15 Ways To Make Investment Reports Easier To Read