Here is my top 10 list of layout tips / designs in order to get your ERP documents delivering their purpose quickly.
#1: Multipage design
When starting out with the implementation of say 10 to 30 new documents then from the beginning you should start off with a template process containing a multi-page layout. For PageOUT it is easy to create a layout for First / Single / Body / Last (Before & After) page types. At this point in time you can also pre-install variable steered overlays for logos and footers. (Even overlays containing frames boxes and lines if desired). To do this you can create a PageOUT dur file and import it to each and every new PageOUT process. For Story Teller – I will come back to that in another article.
Here below are samples of multi-page layouts:
The default sequence for these page types is: Before Page > First Page || Single Page > Body Page > Last Page > After Page.
It is common to use all of these page types across ERP documents – although Before & After pages are used somewhat less.
#2: White space around important items
Isolating a corporate / company / product logos with lots of white space enhances the chances of it being noticed. Lots of white space exhibits a respect and credibility for the actual image. This is also true for appropriately positioned non image items. Take a look at the following 2 pages – it is easy tell which one is easier on the eye:
#3: Page Grid
Using a page grid (shown here) can help you align objects into tidy rows & columns and improve the readability of the material. It is important to segment the many different messages into different layout objects.
It is unfortunately common that many ERP systems place all messaging within one or two text items and without any separation. To illustrate this we can take a look at the following two images of the same invoice. (From top to bottom) Image #1 has an address and invoice number and invoice date followed by a textual paragraph. This paragraph actually contains 3 pieces of unrelated information. Image #2 is the same invoice (with a major redesign) with the items broken up into different text pieces and in different locations. Much easier for the eye and brain to absorb the short messaging for exactly what it is.
#4: Inline / Outline / Runarounds alignment designs
Common nowadays is an increasing amount of images with text. Either as appendices or actually inline with texts – it is only a question of time before the requirement turns up on your doorstep. So watch out for wrapping text too closely to images – keep your white space as a premium – as your message will be easier to absorb. The example below is called a runaround as opposed to a total break in the texts or a reduction of image size – thus lessening the importance of the image.
#5: Purpose Built
Just remember that many external and internal documents are handled by the working hands of drivers / fax machines / scanners and so on. Inserting logic to produce non color pages for faxes is a wise thing to do. Colour or even grayscale backgrounds are pretty much wasted on faxed documents as they carry no benefit to the recipient.
#6: Selling your invoice?
There are many finance companies out there who (for a fee) take over your invoice. The new owner of the invoice will want to place their payment details on your invoice and remove yours – so leave room for stamping or re-branding.
#7: Reduce reverse page construction as must as possible – best of all – none
Reverse page construction is fairly popular yet not without its issues. The main issue being that the risk for text collision is quite huge. Using PageOUT can require the grabbing of cursor position (getCurrY()) prior to skipping or continuing with the reverse part.
Documents that have large footers normally require a lot of logic to calculate and present the correct information. Space for several Tax Code lines is a must. It may be just one tax code line today yet next year you may be facing an increase to 3 or 5 tax code lines. E.g. For larger stately service providers.
Try to retain an inline flow of data to reduce headaches.
#8: Document Borders
In order to retain a pleasurable amount of white space - drawing borders on frames, boxes around data/labels and separating lines between header and document bodies should be used sparingly. Not only will there be exceptions that require additional layout programming but you will reduce the amount of object to maintain.
#9: Make room for the future
Documents tend to experience facelifts every now and again and a simple design is easier to change than a complex one.
#10: Paper Sizes
Finally you should insert the necessary logic into your platform in order to handle different page sizes (A4 and US Letter being the most common), number of copies (take care of your sticky variables), and correct driver type.