Posted by: kerrywills | February 21, 2014

Embracing My OCD: Formatting and Structure

In my self-medicating series around “embracing my OCD” I will now go into formatting and structure. I believe that since we work in a professional setting that our work should be of high quality. Therefore, I often have a hard time looking at the content of something without seeing the formatting and structure first…

  • PowerPoints where the shapes don’t align, line up or are symmetrical
  • Bullets that wrap and have consistent punctuation (I don’t care if you end every bullet with a period or without, but at least be consistent)
  • Grammar and spelling
  • Consistent font


Yes, I acknowledge these things make me neurotic but I do believe that the quality of someone’s work is a direct reflection on how they view their work and role. If someone throws together a sloppy document, then they must not care that much about the work – that may sound like an extreme statement but that is the impression that I get sometimes.

So please take the time to review the formatting and structure of your work because there are crazy people like me who focus on them.


  1. Do you believe that proper formatting and punctuation redeem a document that is irrelevant, incorrect, counter-factual, or late? If not, then why do you think a relevant, timely, fact-filled document prepared with a text editor as a couple of paragraphs, with a few spelling errors and a misplaced comma, is somehow lacking? Would re-formatting it as PowerPoint slide and correcting the spelling and grammar make it perfect?

    Do you believe that an overweight programmer with a bad complexion is less credible than an attractive salesperson? If so, why?

  2. Remember I did say “I often have a hard time looking at the content of something without seeing the formatting and structure first” – that IS NOT TO SAY that content doesn’t matter. But I do believe formatting is table stakes, because the reality is that people DO equate quality with credibility. That being said I hire people based on their skills and not looks, which, ironically, includes attention to detail and quality.

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