5 Content Formatting Techniques to Energize Your Knitting Patterns

by | Nov 7, 2019 | Independent Designer Business

I like to think of pattern formatting like salt. Not formatting your knitting pattern is like throwing away your salt shaker.

It doesn’t matter how many hours you put into Julia Child’s beef bourguignon if you don’t add any salt. Salt is what makes things taste awesome.

In the same way, if you spend days or weeks on end perfecting your pattern instructions, but forget to spend five minutes formatting your content, it is all for naught. And will be frustrating for your customers. This article will show you five knitting pattern formatting techniques that make your patterns easier to read and generally up your level of design.

Why should I worry about content formatting?

People, including yourself, find it easier to consume content when it is broken up in to chunks. No one wants to read 1,000 words in size 12pt font. This is especially true when it comes to digital files.

Your customers will have a much better experience if you take the time to format your patterns. Which also means that those first time customers are more likely to buy your patterns in the future.

Content formatting is critical when you only have seconds to capture a visitors attention.

If you are not taking content formatting steps then you are going to lose those repeat customers simply because your pattern was too difficult and cumbersome to read.

The Goal in Pattern Formatting

Ultimately you want to draw attention to the most important parts of your content. Using headers, bolding, and other formatting styles will make your content skimmable.

We want to use pattern formatting to create structure,  but don’t get too crazy. Too much variation, using too many colors, or making all of the font large will result in the writing equivalent of a poorly executed one man band standing in the middle of screaming children. We don’t want to create noise or dilute our brand. We want to add clarity through structure.

We don’t want to create noise or dilute our brand. We want to add clarity through structure.

A bonus to pattern formatting: non-boring pages. Simple patterns look really vanilla when they lack formatting. Paragraph after paragraph of content is visually uninteresting. Just by using a few simple formatting techniques, you make an average page look really professional.

5 Knitting Pattern Formatting Techniques

Use What Your Headers

If you do nothing else, you should always use headers. Most likely, you already have some hierarchy and organization built into your content, you just need to apply it visually.

A good header might be larger and bolder than the other content, or even a different color. 

Some headers that your pattern might have are:

  • Special Techniques
  • Directions
  • Materials
  • About the Designer
  • Abbreviations

 

Bold is Your Sometimes Friend

Use bold to make your pattern skimmable, like I’ve done in this blog article. Don’t go crazy on the bold. if everything is bold, then nothing is bold. As with all of these techniques use them carefully. Another way that formatting is also like salt, too much will ruin something that was at least palatable.

 

Justification

Use the “align center” to call out a phrase, highlight the title or bring attention to a very important instruction. Most of the time I will use a combination of styles to make it stand out from the rest of the content, such as making it larger, bolder and centered. If all of your content is left justified (like this article), then centering a piece of the content on purpose will always make it stand out.

You can also use center justification to demonstrate that two pieces of pattern content don’t belong together. For example, if you end your pattern with your bio. You might make your bio centered, and all other content left justified. That makes it clear that “this is the pattern” and “this is the bio”.

Centered, bolded content should be used super sparingly, and is most often used to drive home a point, because your eye will be drawn to it. Types of content that might get this treatment are: pattern title, a key instruction, your bio.

I do not recommend using the “align right” style, most of the time it just looks weird.

If all of your content is centered, don’t “align left” either. That’s weird too. Try it, it looks weird.

 

ALL CAPS

If you use bold sparingly, then all-caps should be like that super expensive fancy meal you order for your anniversary. People don’t like to be yelled at. If all-caps is used in the wrong way it will feel like yelling. I generally reserve all-caps for really really important content.

I should also note, that you should be consistent with your use of all-caps in your pattern directions. If you use K1 to describe knit one, then you shouldn’t format your purl one abbreviation p1, it should be P1. Keep your capitalization consistent.

 

Different Color

It is a good idea to introduce some color into your copy. Pick colors that are on brand and match your logo. Do not choose colors at random.

 

Summary

Using pattern formatting can make it easier to read. I often see designers wanting to make everything bigger, because it is all important. Your pattern, on the whole, tells one complete story, but ultimately there can only be one king of the hill. And if you try to make every part of your content the king of the hill, then all of your content is going to be on the same level. There should always be one part of your pattern that is more important than the others.

Salt, formatting is salt, don’t go overboard.

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