One of my favorite things about the computer is the ability to format. As you can tell, I love italics. It makes everything stand out. :-)
Formatting becomes very important in many instances: papers, posters, presentations, resumes, this blog...So here are my tips!
Pictures are worth 1000 words. I don't care if you are an English major or not: people do not like to read. Use your text to describe what your pictures are saying.
Make your own graphics! You don't need to be a graphic artist to do this. Paint is awesome...and the new Windows 7 Paint is even awesome-r. Take advantage of the zoom tool. If you hate Paint: use MS Word/Powerpoint and create a "New Drawing Canvas". If you are able to, maybe take a look at Photoshop; my last lab had the program, and I started to use it for precise calculations on our drawings.
Empty space is your best friend. Empty space is a sign of cleanliness, organization, and intelligence. Imagine Einsteins's home office. Is it a mess? Or is it pristine with books surrounding a big comfy chair with a simple lamp in the middle? Intelligent people are seen as clean (whether or not they are). So keep your publications and works of art clean.
Use fonts, bold, italics, and underlines. It helps to make things standout, similar to what I do here.
And for your papers/publications: Use EndNote! A few graduate students told me about this program. I initially blew off their advice until I had about 20 sources. You usually can download the program for free from your school's website. However, it takes a little getting used to. After a full semester of writing about 6 extensive papers with figures, tables, and (not to mention) sources, the program was able to organize them very neatly. You can also look up a book/journals ISBN from the Library of Congress, and it'll format the Bibliography for you! Final tip: look up a journal using Google; usually you'll be able to download the citation STRAIGHT into your EndNote Library...talk about a time saver.
Hope this helped :-) If you have any questions, feel free to write in the comments or email me.