Five rules for better docs

The format menu is mightier than the sword.

08 May 2023


I use Google Docs a lot. Here are five rules I like to follow to make my docs extra awesome. They should serve you pretty well in Microsoft Word too!

1. Use styles

If I want a different font size, font family etc. throughout then I edit my document’s paragraph styles. Formatting individual blocks of text is the fast track to a giant mess later.

2. Use headings

Proper headings promote structure, improve navigation and ensure my tables of contents stay in sync. Normal text painted over in bold / all caps doesn’t count as a heading!

3. Use paragraph spacing

This is the correct way to create whitespace between paragraphs. Using extra line breaks instead confuses content with presentation (separating paragraphs with extra line breaks when using Markdown is the exception that proves the rule).

4. Turn on suggesting mode…

…before editing someone else’s doc. I want to make it easy for other people to spot my suggestions and decide how best to incorporate them (or not). Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!

5. Go pageless

One day this will be the default for everyone, and the world will be a better place for it. 99% of my documents will never see a printer; pretending I am typing onto sheets of paper adds a ton of complexity for zero meaningful benefit.