Tender readability remains a problem for some in the 21st century. I still see submission documents that cling to a handful of really old hat tender presentation and formatting techniques.
I suspect this is because some of these ‘rules’ are viewed as being more appropriate to a ‘formal’ style of document such as a tender.
Or perhaps your organisation has ‘always produced documents that way’.
Another factor includes the ‘default’ aspects of word processing programs that initially mimicked typewriter conventions.
Typewriters had limited ways to present text and thus a series of typist’s conventions were born that are still considered by some to be ‘the way’ to set out formal documents such as tenders.
Tender presentation no-nos that put up a barrier to tender readability
However, many of these quaint typewriter conventions not only make you look positively old fashioned, they get in the way of tender readability.
Tender readability is critical so evaluators can quickly find the information they are looking for in order to make a decision in your favour.
Some tender readability no-nos to avoid are:
Tender readability no-no 1
Underlining of headings or individual words is very old fashioned – a technique from typewriter days when there were few formatting options.
As a rule this approach is not recommended unless used very selectively or for hyperlinks.
When using modern word processing software if you want to add emphasis (or prominence) to your tender’s most important headings and words your options include:
Noting, this is one of those situations where you are best to pick 1 (or maximum 2 options) to add emphasis to your text, not 4 or 5 bells and whistles!
Tender readability no-no 2
Fantasy punctuation such as this little combo, often seen before a bulleted list comprising a colon (:) and an en dash (-):
It is not a thing – don’t use it!
Use a colon (i.e., : alone) instead to introduce your list.
Tender readability no-no 3
Random indenting or tabbing at the start of a new paragraph.
You are not producing a typeset paperback novel.
If your document template styles are set correctly there will be enough line spacing (or ‘leading’) between paragraphs to allow each major section to breathe and for a reader to follow along with your content.
Keep your tender readability up by aligning all text (and bullets) flush against the left margin of your page.
Tender readability no-no 4
Random Capitalisation throughout Your headings Is Very tiring For The Reader’s Eyes.
This style is known as Title Case and its application (as above) can be hit and miss. The undulations between upper and lower case are be tiring and confusing to read.
Tender readability best practice is to prefer Sentence case (where your heading starts with a single capital letter, and no others, unless a word contained in your heading is a proper noun). This is far easier on the reader’s eyes.
Tender readability no-no 5
Nowadays it’s one space after a full stop.
However, as the capabilities of word processing software and proportional fonts have evolved this is no longer the case, and you should use one space after a full stop without negatively impacting tender readability.
Tender readability no-no 6
Justified text alignment
The use of Justified text is not justified in your tender documents!
This is occasionally still preferred by some of my clients – it perhaps looks more ‘formal’ and ‘familiar’ to their eyes. Or they are aiming to mimic the typesetting of print publications such as newspapers and magazines. These publications are expertly typeset whereas most self-produced business documents create justified text that is harder to read.
- very compressed and squished strings of words (in order to fit words to a line)
- ‘rivers of white’ – distracting, random lengths of white space that can appear in blocks of justified text.
And while MS Word’s justified formatting has become somewhat more intelligent you can also get some horrible renderings in certain fonts where words are stretched to fill the space.
Use left aligned (or ragged right) as your default text alignment option to maximise your tender readability.
Why bother with improving tender readability?
It’s wishful thinking to believe this stuff ‘doesn’t matter’ and that just because you’ve dumped some text in as a tender response that the tender evaluators will ‘work it out’.
Think about it, if you have a dozen or more tenders to review and assess which one would you prefer to read through?
The one that is a pleasure to read and skim as the clever formatting lets the words tell the story without distraction? Or the visually ‘busy’ document full of inconsistent, old fashioned or difficult formatting that is punishing to work through and forces your reader to unravel a mystery?
If you can ditch these 6 old fashioned conventions, you’ll not only improve your tender readability, but also increase the evaluators’ comprehension, recognition of your value and hopefully acceptance of your proposal.
If your tender readability and formatting could use a spruce up, why not talk to us?
Tender readability remains a problem for some in the 21st century. I still see submission documents that cling to a handful of really old hat tender presentation and formatting techniques. I suspect this is because some of these ‘rules’ are viewed as being more appropriate to a ‘formal’ style of document such as a tender. […]