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Document Design Basics ENG 112 Prof. Holly Johnson
Some documents work better than others at holding our attention and conveying information. By understanding the basic principles of document design and layout, we can create more successful documents.
1. Visual information helps us remember text info better.
2. We remember images of humans better than objects.
3. We tend to remember things that are funny or sexy better than things that are not (but there are times where humor and sex are not appropriate).
4. The human eye is easily overloaded and distracted. Our eyes wear out looking at too much contrast, but our eyes are also attracted to contrast. Blue and red are particularlyBlue and red are particularly exhausting on the eye, but all textexhausting on the eye, but all text with no visuals is somewhat tiringwith no visuals is somewhat tiring to to read. Think about it. Text isread. Think about it. Text is usually usually black on white paper whichblack on white paper which is the is the highest contrast there is.highest contrast there is. One One reason we double spacereason we double space written written work is to reduce eyework is to reduce eye fatigue. The fatigue. The blank lines provideblank lines provide some rest from some rest from the constantthe constant contrast. Lots of contrast. Lots of technicaltechnical documents also include documents also include visuals,visuals, graphs, logos, charts, or graphs, logos, charts, or images toimages to help break up the dense help break up the dense space.space. We CAN read things that are We CAN read things that arebland, but we don’t usually enjoy it. bland, but we don’t usually enjoy it.
5. Text that is baddly spelled, uses pour punctuation and bad grammer not, only makes the writer looks, like a boob but can confuse meaning and be extremely distrac ting ass well.
Is your restaurant too cheap to use anapostrophe?
To apply the principles effectively, you must first know a little bit about color and contrast.
The strongest color contrasts are the ones that areopposites on the color wheel: yellow/violet, green/red, blue/orange, and of course black and white.
In general, it’s best to avoid the harshest contrastsand use warm colors with warm colors, cool colorswith cool colors, and use slight contrast for accents.
We tend to feel soothed and calmed by cool colors. Colors have an affect on us! We tend to feel excited andinvigorated by warm colors.
We also have particular associations with certain colors. Ever seen a pink Ford pick-up truck? Probably not.
Why are hospital rooms depressing? This room is functional, but the light is glaring, the shades of wood are conflicting, the only color is thecurtain and it’s high contrast mint and pink, the walls arestark white, there are no calming colors and no accents.
In addition to choosing colors carefully, we mustalso think about choosing shapes carefully. Shapes effect us too. We are attracted to symmetry.
When things are asymmetrical there is a contrast, and our eye is attracted to contrast. Too much contrast, however, is unappealing.
Round objects (like cool colors) tend to sooth the eye,whereas spiky objects (like warm colors) stimulate us.
When analyzing or designing a document ask yourself: Q: What information am I trying to convey? Q: Can I use visuals to help me convey it? Q: Can I use visuals of people? Q: Do I want to use humor or sex appeal? Q: What colors are best for this project? Q: What shapes would be best for this project? Q: Where do I want the reader’s eye to focus most?
In the next three slides you will see the homepage of several websites.Which one has the best design and layout? Which has the worst?Based on the principles we’ve just learned, see ifyou can articulate precisely what makes one page work better than the others.
Now that you’ve learned the basic principles of gooddocument design, you’re readyto begin applying them to yourown document design project!