This article is for designing forms but I think it translates fairly well to documents as well. This site is also a great source for design ideas and tutorials.
Some of the problems with forms and I’d say documents as well, include:
- a lack of emphasis on anything. (Note: if you emphasize everything that means that NOTHING is emphasized)
- wasted space (Note: White space in documents is GOOD. This one may not translate as well from forms to docs.)
- not easily scannable
- not organized logically
Here is a before & after look at the example form. Some simple changes make it more readable/useful.
Ideabook.com Tutorials | How to design a smart, functional form