Successful Writing : Considering Design

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When the design of your projects looks good, you are off to a good start with your readers.

Now we have come to the stage of considering design. Now that most of us write on computers, we are able to make all kinds of choices about the design of our writing projects. We can use different fonts and sizes of type, justify pages right or left or both (or center the text), scan in images, add charts and graphs and tables, use colors other than black, turn the text and visuals sideways on the page - the list goes on and on. Readers in college and in the professional world have come to expect that those design elements will be used effectively to make what they read more accessible and attractive. Just to list a few examples, many readers have become impatient with large, solid blocks of text whether in the form of an 81/2 – by – 11 inch report page with no paragraph breaks or headings or a Power Point slide showing hundreds of words of straight text or a Web page that's so poorly designed they cannot find what they want on it. Thus it's in your best interest to learn the basics of document design. They are not that difficult and they can serve you well.

Many writing projects benefit from effective design. A few examples would include management or marketing reports containing charts and graphs, architectural or scientific proposals featuring sketches and drawing, Power Point slides that graphically reinforce the key points in a pre¬sentation, Web sites that make users smile with their accessibility, church newsletters that tell their stories clearly and attractively and resumes that help you stand out from the crowd in a positive way.

You don't need the latest software or hardware to design effectively. Effective design comes more from knowing and meeting the needs of your readers than from applying dazzling technology. In fact, the worst kinds of document design today often come from pushing the computer's abilities to the limit without thinking about the information needs of the audience. For example, before you worry what a newsletter should look like, think carefully about what readers the newsletter addresses and what they want to get out of it. This chapter will help you consider such questions.

  • A Few Uses of Document Designs

  • Planning A Design

  • Considering Type

  • Considering Layout

  • Designing For The Website

  • For Practice :

    1.) Find a Web site whose structure is of the endlessly scrolling type and analyze its strengths and weaknesses. As part of your analysis, make a sketch of the site's structure as it would look if the site were recast to fit a hierarchical design.

    2.) Find a Web site that is set up according to the hierarchical structure and analyze its strengths and weaknesses. How does the design of individual pages adapt to that structure? How has the designer kept the site from seeming as disorganized as you have seen in another web site?

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