“Personal effectiveness is the core of our business.”
- Sheila Viesca, TalkShop

Friday, August 03, 2012

A Marriage of Substance and Style

Imagine you are reading two reports.

The first report is well-researched and accurately-cited. It contains a substantial amount of relevant information and provides keen insight on a given topic. However, the formatting makes it a difficult read. The font is small and unreadable, sentences are wordy, the paragraphs are overly long, and there are numerous spelling and grammatical errors.

The second report looks clean and crisp. The cover page has an aesthetically-pleasing design and the table of contents has a systematic outline. However, the report does not delve deeply into the topic. There are almost no external references and the arguments are supported by the author's opinions rather than facts.

Which report is better?

When making a report or presentation, you must account for style and substance in equal measure. A lack of style diminishes the potency of substance and vice-versa.

Style is concerned with presentation and design. Is the work presentable to the audience? Does the form fit its function? Is there a common theme that binds everything together?

Substance deals with relevance and content. Is the work insightful or informative? Does it accomplish what it's set out to do? Is the result useful to the end-user?

To make your work truly matter, it is important to fuse these two elements together into a cohesive whole. If style is the queen then content is its king.


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