5 Simple Tips To Make A Good-Looking Report Using Word 2007

Microsoft Office Word 2007 icon

My college’s final year project report had to be made & there was a huge hoopla surrounding the un-said compulsory rule of making use of LaTex. Now, I did not understand what was the big deal about LaTex was when a friend told me that our college forced on the use of the same because of the way it allows you to insert equations & the auto-update index. Blah! I retorted & came to my lovely Word 2007. Here are some tips that follow to create my project reports.

1. Make A Basic Structure & Start Typing

When you start out to make a document, plan a basic structure & start off. I don’t usually keep a fixed structure, divide the document into possible sections and start typing the document. You can re-arrange the sections at a later point in time. The biggest problem that I have seen is people spend a lot of time thinking about how to categorize the document content whereas that is the last thing 1 should bother about. The document is all about the matter & you need to type it. So once the matter is typed one can arrange it to heart’s content.

2. Report Formatting

This takes most of my time. Usually documents have a cover page, may have certificate & acknowledgment pages. The most comfortable way to add these into the final print is to make a separate/new document for Cover page along with acknowledgment & certificate pages. It makes adding header/footers & page numbers to the content document much simpler, I usually prefer not having page numbers, headers & footers on these pages.

3. Page Formatting

  • Method of Text Entry

For example, your first page is “Table of Contents”, followed by “Introduction” after that you begin with section 1 of your report, maybe basic idea of project. I will strongly recommend you to follow the following steps:

  1. Home –> Heading 1
  2. Enter the section title.
  3. Change font style to “Normal”.
  4. Type your content & create a new section.
  5. To create the next section:
    1. Select Page Layout from the ribbon.
    2. Left-click on Breaks in the group Page Setup and select “Section Break…Next Page”
  • Header-Footer:

This includes the header/footer of the report. Word 2007 has some templates for headers/footers & out of them my favorite is the “Austere Even Page” for header & “Austere Odd Page” for footer. Simple & easy to format.

My header contains the type of document, for example – Project Synopsis & the name of the project.

The footer has the page/section title of the section & the names of my group (Note: Documents should list his name last). You can have the company name instead of the group members’ names.

The benefit of the “Method of Entry” step, will now be seen in the footer where the heading of the section appears in the footer. For me it automatically works with the “Austere” template only. However, if you want to do this with other templates, you will need to edit the footer for each “section”. This can be done by:

  1. On the Insert menu, point to Reference, and then click Cross-reference.
  2. In the Reference type box, click Heading.
  3. In the For which heading box, click the heading that contains the chapter title.
  4. In the Insert reference to box, select what you want to insert in the header or footer. For example,
    • Click Heading number to insert the chapter number.
    • Click Heading text to insert the chapter heading.
  5. Click Insert, and then click Close.
  6. Repeat the steps to edit titles of different sections.
  7. To break connection “Link to Previous”.
  • Borders:

Adding box page borders for some reason does make the whole document look good, IMHO. But you can choose not to according to you.

4. Text Formatting:

  • Font:

My personal font preference for the content is – Calibri, size 11.

Section titles – Cambria, style Heading 1, size 14.

Sub-sections – Cambria, style Heading 2 or 3 accordingly.

NOTE: These font sizes look really neat after printing on a normal A4.

I would suggest use of dark or light shades of 1 particular color. Like, Section title can be dark blue, sub-sections can be lighter blue.

  • Paragraph

Text alignment – Justified. Very slick.

A simple tip that can be used very effectively is the paragraph spacing. I use this a lot to remove spacing between items in list & adding space between the list and the following paragraph. Play with it & you shall find very handy. To get access to this:

  1. Right click on an area of text you want increase/decrease formatting.
  2. Paragraph –> Indents & Spacing –> Spacing
  3. Adjust the “Before”, “After” & “Line Spacing” accordingly.

5. Finalizing

The first page should be “Table of Content” and Word 2007 has an amazing auto-creator for the same. If you have followed the section styling of Heading 1, heading 2 etc. then this is just 1 click away:

  • References –> Table of Contents –> Automatic Table 1

You can choose not to have the Header-Footer for the TOC page, for this:

  • Insert –> Header/Footer –> Check “Different First Page”

Once your document is done, I will strongly urge you to import the document into PDF or XPS before taking it to another PC or printing it. This is very essential to ensure that any of the formatting or the font styles are not lost. If you are using a genuine Microsoft Office, then you can download the “Export to PDF” plugin from here.

As far as equations are concerned, Word 2007 is abso-friggin’-lutely lovely when it comes to inserting equations. Only 1 tip that would like to share for equations is:

  • To add a subscript (eg: log 10 to the base 2) – log  underscore  2 10
  • To add a superscript (eg: x raise to y)  – x (shift+6)y

Here are the 2 parts of my latest project documentation, if you want to see the final outcome:

Synopsis | Cover & Certificate page