Different standards

There are some annoying little standard variations in this digital life. But we can all get along. Here’s one solution…

Last week I got a quote from a caterer for a dinner I am running. A roundtable affair to discuss water technology. It was fairly standard fare, a word document with the bare minimum of information.


The quote p*ssed me off though, as it was hard to read. It seems the author didn’t realise that word documents can appear differently on different machines.


When you open up Word (for most people) a new document starts with what’s called the default template. This means that the page is a certain shape and your words are written in a certain font at a re-specified size. There are also a number of other settings. 


It also easy – but where it gets tricky is when your default template and my default template differ.


For instance, I like a 2cm margin on the left and a 1cm margin on the right, as compared to Word’s default margin of 2.54cm all around. The impact of this variance is that sentences can wrap around at a different point, which can cause issues when spacing information by using tabs.


Another issue is that the font I like to use is Verdana 10 point as my standard. If you’re using Times New Roman, it’s a narrower font, which means that paragraphs can appear bigger to me (as there will be more lines).


The solution to this problem, which I like best, is to produce quotes as a PDF document before sending them out. The advantage of this is that my style and formatting is locked in to the document. An additional bonus is that my documents then become difficult to alter or copy, providing less opportunities for future disagreements.


The best-known PDF generator is of course Adobe Acrobat. However there are plenty of other cheaper options in the marketplace, such as PublishPDF Pro, Scansoft and Robot PDF. In the past, when feeling tight, I have used PDF995. But it’s a free job, so it can generate irritating pop-up advertising when you use it.


Quotation layout made easy.


Brendan Lewis is the founder of two IT service firms, Edion and Verve IT, and executive director of the Churchill Club.

To read more Brendan Lewis blogs, click here.



Ken Wood at Universal Events writes: I found that www.cutepdf.com is the best of the free PDF generators that I’ve come across. No pop up advertising, in any case.



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