rules and borders

Use sparingly

In tra­di­tional print­ing ter­mi­nol­ogy, a rule is a line; a bor­der is a box. But in word proces­sors, they’re vari­a­tions of the same func­tion. Rules and bor­ders can be applied to pages, para­graphs, or tables.

Like centered text, bold or italic, and all caps, rules and bor­ders are best used spar­ingly. Ask your­self: do you really need a rule or bor­der to make a visual dis­tinc­tion? You can usu­ally get equally good results by adding space above and below. Try that first.

For bor­ders, set the thick­ness between half a point and one point. Thin­ner bor­ders can work on pro­fes­sion­ally printed goods but are too fine to repro­duce well on an office printer. Thicker bor­ders are coun­ter­pro­duc­tive—they cre­ate noise that upstages the infor­ma­tion inside. You want to see the data, not the lines around the data.