When it comes to writing, looks matter just as much as substance. Don’t get me wrong, there is no substitute for high quality writing. But great writing poorly presented will be just as ineffective as bad writing.
Several years ago when I was working in an advertising agency, I received a resume from someone who was applying for a copywriting job. The resume had chocolate (I hope!) smudges all over it. That sent a very clear message to me about how meticulous this person would be when it came to being careful about the appearance of work that went out of his office. Needless to say, I moved on to the next applicant.
Recently I was working with a young lady who was looking for an entry-level clerical job. She told me that she recently completed a resume writing class and proudly showed me a very nicely written and formatted resume printed on paper that was completely covered with yellow daisies. This paper might have been perfect for an invitation to a garden party, but for a resume it was completely inappropriate. The scary thing is that her resume was approved by the person who taught the class.
We do judge books by their cover. We do it every day, and we do it without being aware that we are doing it. We also judge letters, resumes, and memos by the way they are formatted and presented. What message is the appearance of your writing sending about you?