How can I present my clients with a professional looking document?

….by taking care of the details!

I am an architect by training and as such I am often called upon to make presentations or to compile a portfolio of work to present to others.  There are a few simple rules I use to make sure they look good.  Here are my tips.  If I think of more I may generate another blog about this.

I think carefully about what the packet will include.  Right now my 10 hour case work packet is composed of :

  1. a letter of findings
  2. invoice
  3. pedigree chart with endnotes
  4. journal report with endnotes
  5. exhibits, includes a table of contents

This is about 20 pages of documentation (give or take) so I make sure the project is in a binder of some kind.

So, here are some tips to make this look professional.

  • use a really good paper.  It should have very “hard” finish and be very opaque.  I like a very white paper.  To emphasize the difference, I do the first three items on the list in the hard white paper and items 4 & 5 in regular xerox type paper. I am using Domtar, 32#, white, firstchoice for color printing.  It’s also a sustainable product.
  • Size the binder for the product and select one that will allow for the person to either remove the document from the binder easily and lay it flat.  Three ring binders work great but can be considered a nuisance if they are too wide for the document.
  • to the extent possible use the same font in similar documents.  For example, I am using Diterot for the first two, and Arial for the next three.  It separates that which I generate from that which is a computer generated report.  (It appears that Diterot is a MAC font.  I also like Gill Sans MT.)
  • print out everything in draft form and mark up before printing on your good paper.  I always find little things that I ought to correct.
  • If you use color, use it sparingly, quietly but consistently.  I would not recommend more than one color, but there may be instances where more are appropriate.
  • Think like your recipient….if you received this, would you know what you are looking at?  …think of it being on the shelf for a long time and someone picks it up.  Could they figure it out?  For example, I realized, that it might be helpful to have a table of contents associated with the exhibits.  I have recently added that.
  • a smaller project may not warrant the same graphical attention as a really big project, but I like to have all my work product look good.

These are just some hints and if I come up with more I will post them.  I would also like to hear about your hints.  Let me know so we all can share.

Happy Hunting!


Things I have done since the last post:  talked to my third client, Theresa.  She is looking for information on her Irish ancestors.  Knowing that 10 hours is not much time, I recommended that I do a little preliminary work on both the “mom” and the “dad” and see which one would be most productive.  I settled on the “dad”.  Wrote her and got her agreement.  I will now write up the letter of agreement.  Also received the signed letter of agreement from Mary for the next phase.


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