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Format and Presentation Issues

Before turning to the substance of a business plan, let's take a few moments to consider some basic issues regarding the format and presentation of the plan. You want your plan to look professional and be a useful tool. There are a number of things to do to ensure that is the case:

  • Print the plan on a high-quality paper. Print on one side of the paper only.
  • Incorporate a cover page that includes your logo, company motto, or other identifying information or graphic. Be sure to include identifying information for the business and to name the person who should be contacted regarding the plan.
  • Use a typeface that is easy to read, and a font size that is large enough to prevent eyestrain. This may require financial projections to be spread over several pages in order to maintain readability.
  • Maintain reasonable borders.
  • If those in your business use specialized language or acronyms, use them sparingly and be sure to define any terms that someone outside your area of expertise wouldn't readily know.
  • Number the pages, and be sure that the page numbers are accurately reflected in the table of contents.
  • Keep the plan short and concise. Limit the inclusion of extraneous material. You can always provide additional detail in an appendix, if required.
  • Include samples of ads, marketing material, and any other information that aids in the presentation of your plan.
  • Be certain to carefully edit the document. Spelling and grammar errors do not make a good impression.
  • Bind the plan so that it lays flat when opened.
  • Don't go overboard on expensive binders, binding, embossing, etc. Elevating the form of the plan over its substance can raise doubts among those reading the plan. But avoid looking cheap or sloppy.
  • Don't get carried away on slick presentation pages; there are times when presenting information graphically is appropriate, but unless you're a graphic artist, you audience isn't going to be impressed by the graphical quality of the plan.