The first concerns fonts. Word and Powerpoint offers you the ability to use hundreds of fonts like Arial, Gothic, Stencil, Tahoma... with several styles of each ...bold, italic etc. Just because they are there for your use...don't try to use ALL of them in your paper or presentation! Actually the rule of thumb (taught to me during a Effective Presentations course while I was at AT&T) is...pick two and keep it at that. And pick two that are easily readable. Not some fancy thin script or wild sci-fi font. Remember that people are sitting through your presentation or reading that paper in order to learn something not to be distracted by your choice or over-use of different fonts. For your titles and headings use a bold sans sarif like Arial or Verdana. So that your heading stands out. (Sans Sarif means "Without adornment" . Here is an example showing both sans serif and serif;
For papers with a lot of words a serif font should be used. Why? The little 'Serifs' or adornments on the fonts actually help make reading easier. A whole page with just arial can make your eyes tired! More tips to come.