By "design", I mean this sort of minimalist visual formatting that uses accent elements and negative space to focus specific pieces of text, not infographics (which are a different topic):


Is this all done in MS Word? Or is there more specialized software?

And if anyone can share any links to tutorials/guides/courses on this sort of design (especially the WHY of the design choices, rather than just the technical HOW), I'd appreciate it.

  • The second part of your question is fairly broad and will likely receive close votes. What are you struggling with from a design perspective?
    – Ryan
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 19:28
  • I suppose I'm just wondering if there are specific approaches/patterns, or if it's entirely arbitrary. If it's the latter, then that part of the question can be omitted. Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 20:14

4 Answers 4


The designer Jan White identified rock solid principles for functional document design over the course of his 40+ year career, and free e-book versions of his design books are available on his site. I find them very valuable for meat-and-potatoes, Swiss-style treatments of text-heavy documents, and have very easy to understand explanations of the rationale behind his design decision-making. http://www.janvwhite.org/

  • I would double vote this if i could. Great resource!
    – Lucian
    Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 16:03

Is this all done in MS Word? Or is there more specialized software?

Most likely the answer that is: No! (altough some people would say its, hell no or even over my dead body)

In fact this document is, according to metadata, been done in Indesign CC 2017.

The reason you would have hard time producing print ready files in Word is that it does not support CMYK color. Also it will start to berak images after your page count racks up. Further placement of items tend to swim around after you edit things.

I wouldnt use word for making thse kinds of things even if I couldn't afford inDesign. Word is a acceptable word processor but not a good layout tool. Hell, I'd probably have better luck and workfloww writing printer code manually*.

As for the resto f your question... Well, simply put, too broad. Also very premature considering your knowledge level.

* But then I would know this since I indeed have done so. Just because i can.


The usual industry standard page layout software is Adobe InDesign, but there are others, such as QuarkXpress, and even free software like Scribus(dot)org. As for the design itself, it comes down to the designers taste.

You can buy pre-made templates if design isn't really your thing. Basically all you then have to do is add more pages and enter your own text.

MS Word isn't much use for design for print because it doesn't support basic requirements like CMYK colour - which is needed for making separations for making printing plates.


I have actually been designing whitepapers and text-heavy documents/financial reports/etc for a long time. Hundreds of them, and some in 15+ languages. You could say I kind of specialize in this. All of them, without exception, have been laid out in InDesign and the finished product was a PDF (high and/or low resolution, depending on the purpose of each job).

For a document similar to your example, one would either create a custom template or buy and customize a ready made one. Again, most likely in InDesign, since this is kind of the standard, but alternatives do exist. However, note, in the business world, pretty much everybody uses InDesign.

The good part here is, once a template has been set up, it can easily be replicated and applied for future work.

Some corporate clients would have their own ready-made templates delivered as part of their branding packages. Some of these will be very detailed and actually include rules for constructing and formatting graphs, charts, tables, etc.

Still, there are many whitepapers and ebooks out there which circulate in a pretty basic Word-like design. Either in plain DOC format or as PDF exports.

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