Document Design Project


Chapter 4 in Reep's Technical Writing (3rd ed.) introduces you to the basic principles of document design.

In addition to reading Chapter 4, remember to read P.J. Benson's essay on "Writing Visually" (pp. 451-61), found at the back of Reep's textbook.

On p. 457, Benson advises writers who use graphics to convey quantitative or procedural information to consider

In addition to graphics, written cues, white space, and typographic devices (changes in type weight and style) are equally important in helping readers find and understand information in a document.

Try noticing and evaluating the design of real-world documents such as information brochures from the career planning office or student health services, annual reports, announcements of events, etc.


On p.127 of chapter 4 (#1, a, b, c, and d), you will find your the first assignment that you will submit for a grade. The *print* version is due in your conference professor's mailbox in 231 Stansbury. The final version should be no less than 2 pages and no longer than 4 pages.

When you are preparing your first assignment, it's up to you to decide how best to present the information on p. 127 in a visual manner. Will you use a pie chart? a bar graph? bulleted or numbered lists? Would a brochure format be effective? What about dividing the page into columns? or dividing the page horizontally? (See pages 51-54, 120-22, 124-26 for examples.) Why? How are your choices shaped by your purpose(s) and your readers' needs?

Once you have finished presenting the material on p. 127, attach a cover memo to your assignment, addressed to your conference professor, in which you explain your reasoning and your choices.

If you are not proficient with a basic graphics program on your computer, this might be an excellent time to learn. However, we will accept hand-drawn graphics.


When we evaluate the document design project that is due Tuesday, Sept. 4, we will be looking for evidence that you:

  1. Understand the basic guidelines for producing graphic aids as outlined in the textbook (chapter 4) and the essay by Benson (pp. 451-61)
  2. Apply the basic principles of document design--balance, proportion, sequence, and consistency--effectively
  3. Show an awareness of your readers' needs
  4. Use written cues to supplement visual information

We also refer you to the basic criteria for an A, B, C, D, or F outlined in the syllabus.

Questions? Contact your conference professor.

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