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The format and appearance of your policy and procedure statements are just as important as the organization and content of the policy and procedure manual. A business manual that is appealing to the eye and that emphasizes the importance of the statements is more likely to be taken seriously and used on a regular basis by your employees.
Procedure Manuals Communicate Information
It is important to remember that the true objective of a business manual is to disseminate information in a timely and efficient manner and not to “impress” the reader with intricate headings or fancy printing techniques. The simplest format is often the best. A simple standard operating procedure template can be used as a common format, which also allows for the most time and cost effective manner for production and maintenance of the business manual. It may be best to avoid temptations such as, detailed corporate logos in headings, two sided copies, odd sized paper patterns, expensive and restrictive binding techniques, etc.
Procedure Manual Design
You should be able to determine the estimated length and usage of your Policy and Procedure Manual by reviewing the preliminary listing of policy and procedures with all personnel assigned to each section. With the guidelines presented in this publication and from your own organization’s needs determine the format of your policy and procedure statements and how you will organize the manual into sections.
No Policy and Procedure Manual should ever be regarded as “complete” in the sense that it will never change. The best manual is one that is geared to continuous growth over time and incorporates design features that make this kind of growth possible. In this regard, many people use standard 8-1/2″ X 11″ paper housed in a three-ring binder, which forms an ideal Policy and Procedure Manual.
The three-ring binder procedure manual provides the benefits of allowing a place for statements to be inserted while the manual is being developed and provides for easy updating through simple replacement of pages or superseded statements. Further, as the organization grows, the use of standard three-ring binders allows additional copies of the manual to be produced on an as needed basis instead of having to be concerned with minimum production runs required for hard bound versions.
Production of policy statementson a single-side, standard size paper medium provides for easy reproduction of the business manual by high-speed copiers. Use of single-side printing also provides for easy updating of the manual with changes by allowing for one or two pages to be replaced without affecting the order or sequence of the manual.
A window type binder should be used to describe the contents of the company manual on the spine for locating sections quickly from a bookcase. If desired, the outside of the binder can be imprinted with the company’s name and logo to give the manual a more professional and authoritative appearance.
Divider tabs on heavy stock should be used to separate functional areas or departmental sections for ease in finding a specific statement.
However, if the company manual becomes too voluminous for easy handling, it may be necessary to bind the manual by different sections, utilize two-sided printing to reduce paper volume or move to a completely online policy management system like www.onpolicy.com provides. Moving everything online reduce paper, speeds up distribution, and provides electronic acknowledgement from each employee.
The style and mechanics of writing policy and procedures include the paper, typestyle and print quality.
Paper – Some organizations use color to designate different manuals, forms, memos, etc. While color can create a pleasing appearance, it sometimes becomes too restrictive and may complicate photocopying or printing. Further, sometimes colors do not provide adequate contrast from the ink color for ease in reading. Nothing is better than black ink on white paper.
The grade of paper is usually not important since the manual is for internal purposes only and is not intended as a public relations effort. Regular 20-pound copy paper is adequate for single-sided printing. A heavier weight paper with greater opacity may be necessary if two-sided printing is used.
Typestyle – Avoid unusual artwork or type styles. These can be difficult to read and/or reproduce over a long period of time. You should strive for consistency in the overall appearance of the entire policy manual regardless of what area or department originates the statements by selecting a common typewriter element or word processing typestyle font. Courier 10, Elite, 12-point times roman and 12-point roman are common typestyles used by many business machines and word‑processing software packages.
Print Quality – Avoid using small print, photocopy reductions, all-capital print or fancy script styles whenever possible as these are tiresome and difficult to read.
Adequate margins should be provided on the page. Recommended margins are a 1″ top and bottom margin with a 1″ left and right mirror margins plus a 1/2″ gutter margin (for three-hole punching or binding).
Appealing Procedure Manual Format
The policy and procedure manual format and appearance are as important as the organization and content. An office manual that is appealing to the eye and emphasizes the importance of the policy and procedure statements contained, is more likely to be taken seriously and used by your employees to accomplish their jobs. Download Free Sample Business Procedure Templates to see how easy it is to edit MS Word Templates to build your own policy and procedure manual, quickly and easily.