Tips on Enhancing the look of Documents?

macOS & Mac Apps

Hey all,
Any tips on enhancing the look of Pages/TextEdit documents? I submit proofread/translations to customers and also publish my own research papers so my documents have sometimes to meet specific standards. Each time I ask sighted people around me about the overall look of my documents they will keep making changes and moving content around. I do the alignment, font size and style, paragraph spacing ETC still sighted people will always have something to recommend.



Submitted by Karina Velazquez on Saturday, December 12, 2020

Hi, I don't want to be rood, but I as well need to present formatted documents for my job and using MacOS has been frustrating for me for that purpose. I know Microsoft is not the most accesible software, but for that purpose JAWS and Microsoft help me more than MacOS, as they provide more details speaking of format.

i have also requested for some guidance on how to format documents in these forums, and no one has answered; that makes me think that for people who use pages, text edit and word on the Mac, formatting is not important.

good luck.

Submitted by WellF on Saturday, December 12, 2020

Just write it all then go adjusting what needs to be adjusted. I.E, citations need to have specific formatting in all standards I know, so format them. Titles must be in a certain way, so change them. Make your word processor of choice use the adequate font and stuff as a default, so you don't need to think about that anymore when writing your papers. That's all, you might still need sighted assistance, as I do.

Submitted by peter on Sunday, December 13, 2020

I have often heard people talk about the importance of braille literacy. If one has no sight at all, I think knowing and using braille is important if one wants to be on a par with their sighted professional peers.

Speech synthesizers are great for reviewing content, but it is easy to miss spelling mistakes and homophones, it is not easy to know when something might be indented too far or there might be extra spaces bewteen words, etc.

I think that braille is an esential part of proofing in a professional environment. You want your output to appear as well formatted and with a minimal number of these little quirks that sighted folks will easily pick up on.

I've seen documents and web pages that are obviously put together by folks who aren't using braille. It can be very obvious.

Anyway, that is just my two cents.


Submitted by Maldalain on Sunday, December 13, 2020

In reply to by peter

I absolutely agree. Braille is of crucial importance for blind professionals. My braille display died two weeks ago and COVID-19 is delaying my new display delivery. This is why I turned down some translation projects lately. I can not guarantee the quality of my work without braille.

Submitted by CMX1409 on Sunday, December 13, 2020

As others have said, format citations and references as directed. Other than that, I've stopped worrying about it. About the most I do is use Heading styles, justification and bold. People will always have an opinion - if you are a professional, employ a P.A. to give your work the once-over before your clients see it.

Braille won't help any of this, you might spot the odd were or where, but not much else a good screen reader won't tell you if you learn how to set it up properly.

IMO the only thing braille helps you with is giving a speech, but if your not a politician that's not a big issue.

Submitted by Kevin Shaw on Monday, December 14, 2020

Here's some helpful advice on formatting that may be of help that costs less than switching to Windows. I had enough vision to format documents before losing my sight.


Fonts come in two or three styles for documents. Serif fonts appear to have a curly tip at the end of each letter. Fonts like Times, Palatino and Garamond have these decorative elements and are generally what one would read in a newspaper such as the New York Times. Sans-serif fonts have no decorative elements and are much easier for people with limited sight to read. There are no decorative curly caps on the letters and the result is a much cleaner look. Fonts like Helvetica, Geneva and Arial are sans-serif fonts. Font heights are delineated in points. there are 72 points to one inch. A 12 point font will take up 1/6 of 1 inch, however 6 lines of 12 point font will be more than an inch in height because of the white space between lines. For readability, a sans-serif font between 11 and 15 points is very legible for body text. 16 points and higher are reserved for headings and titles, but each font appears differently so these values vary. If you were printing a large print document, you might start at 14 points and go up to 22 points. For spacing, values between 1.2 and 1.5 are easy on the eye for someone reading a document. 2 lines of spacing is used if you're submitting work to an editor or a class and need someone to write comments in with a pen. I've found that 1.2 to 1.3 works for spacing body text with 1.5 lines being a little too much.


Left aligned: Imagine lining up the left side of each line of text with a ruler. The right side of the text will appear ragged as each line will end in a different spot. Centre aligned: Words will appear at the centre of the document. This is typically done for titles. For multiple lines, the ends of the text won't line up as everything is equally spaced from the centre. Right aligned: Same as the left example above, but the text is now lined up with the right side of the document. The ragged look appears on the left side of the document. Fully justified: Both sides of the document are lines up with the imaginary ruler so there are no ragged edges on either side. This looks very neat, especially when hyphenation is used so words break with a hyphen at the end of a line and continue on the next. This gives your document the appearance of a nicely laid out book.

For Best Results

Here are some tips I learned from desktop publishing.
  • Correctly mark up your document with Heading, title, Subtitle, Body and so on. this not only gives you a place to start with visual formatting, this makes your document accessible when exporting to PDF or ePub formats.
  • Avoid underlining text. Instead, use bold for things like key terms or headings and italics for explanatory text, etc. Bold text appears as if you've drawn it with a wider brush stroke. Italics text appears slanted to the right. Underlining looks odd.
  • Stick to two fonts max per document. Typically, a serif font is used for headings and titles, such as Garamond; sans-serif text is used for body text, but this is not a hard and fast rule. Going beyond 2 fonts can make things appear a bit amateur and readers can be visually distracted.
  • Single space after periods, always. Adding a double space can make the document appear as if there are rivers of white space in the text. Visually, this looks like a snaking pattern of white among the black text.
  • Avoid widows and orphans. This refers to a line of text that appears all by itself at the bottom of a page while the rest of the paragraph appears on the next page. The reverse can happen where the last line of a paragraph appears at the top of a page, but the rest of the paragraph is on the previous page. Instead of using the return key to make these adjustments, use the More tab in the Pages formatter and use the Keep with Next and Paragraph Starts on a New Page check boxes. This is very accessible and easy to do with VoiceOver.

Submitted by WellF on Monday, December 14, 2020

In reply to by Kevin Shaw

Now that's some good stuff. Would give a wonderful blog post here.