the most readable

Keep it short. Today, business plans are shorter in length than ever before. It's possible to communicate everything in between 20 and 30 pages of text and 10 pages of appendices which include managers' resumes, monthly projections, and other information. Any plan that exceeds 40 pages is likely to be too long.

 Of course there are some exceptions to the general rule. I recently came across a plan for a chain of coffee shops, for example, that included images of the location that was proposed as well as mock-ups of menus, and maps of the other planned locations. While the plans were longer due to the graphics, they were very useful. Product shots, location shots, menus, blueprints, floor plans, logos and photos of signage are all useful.

 Use business charts. Make it easy for people to see and understand your important numbers. Utilize summary tables and simple business charts to emphasize the most important numbers. In the appendices, make the details related easy-to-find. Also...

 You can use bar charts to display at-minimum sales, gross margin, net profit and cash flow for each year.

 The bars that are three-dimensional appear more appealing, while two-dimensional ones are easier to read. Be sure that the numbers are clearly visible.

 Stacked bars make the totals easier to visualize. If your sales divide into segments, stack the bars to show the total.

 Pie charts can be used to determine market share in various market segments.

 You can show milestones and tasks in horizontal bars with labels on the bottom and top and dates on the top and the bottom. It is also known as a Gantt Chart. This chart should only show the important tasks and milestones. A lot of details could cause it to be difficult to read.

 So that readers can quickly refer to them and identify the numbers on the charts, it is recommended to include the sources in a summary table. Never leave a business plan reader without the source numbers to a chart. That's frustrating.

 Make use of a chart only when it is cited within the text. If the source numbers aren't clear from the tables of summary, make sure to specify which appendices contain the specific numbers.

 Polish the overall look and feel. Beyond the words the physical appearance of text should be inviting and easy to read. Here's what I would recommend:

 Use just two fonts for writing text. The font you choose to make headings is a simple sans-serif type, like Arial, Tahoma or Verdana. For the body text, it is recommended to use a standard text font, like Century, Times Roman or Book Antigua.

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 Avoid fonts with small sizes. Only a few of the most readable fonts work at 10 points; most of them work better in the 11-12 point scale.

 To differentiate sections, highlight tables and charts from text, you can break the page with page breaks. You can always go to the next webpage if in doubt. Don't be afraid to move on to the next page.

 It is important to use a lot of white space. You'll be unable to read text that is stuffed into tiny spaces.

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 Make use of your spell-checker to verify accuracy. To make sure you're not using an incorrect spelling word check your text for errors. Make sure the text's numbers are in line with those in your tables.