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Reading Assignment 1

  1. Read Reading Assignment One. In Baer (Information Design Workbook or IDW): Read pages 6-30 (preface and chapter 1) and pages 90-121 (chapter 4). By the way, I am always going to write "read" these pages, but in many cases the more accurate verb may be "view," or "study," or simply "take a look" at the various ways that information design pervades our lives, as the pages of these books are at least as graphic and pictorial as they are textual.
  2. In Lidwell, Holden, and Butler (Universal Principles of Design or UPD): read pages 10-44 ("80/20 Rule" through "Confirmation"). These are the first 17 of over one hundred discrete theoretical design principles that when judiciously combined, form the conceptual template of a graphic that does its job well. I will ask you to review a new set of these terms each week from week two through week seven. As you move from term to term, be thinking about how these concepts may be at work in the information you are exposed to in your disciplines, schools, workplaces, and daily lives.
  3. I took Harris' Information Graphics or IG: off your textbook list.  I've tried to remove references to it from the assignments, but just ignore any you DO find.
  4. Begin reading Bringhurst's  The Elements of Typographical Style.  While the book can be used for reference, it is best experienced by reading it from front to back. The primary focus of the book is typography (fonts), it goes into considerable detail about other elements of document design as well.  If you're like me, you have 1,277 fonts on your computer and no systematic way to choose among them.  Bringhurst gives a way of understand fonts that goes beyond serif and sans serif.  He places fonts in a tradition that goes back thousands of years. A font represents a time, a place, particular technology, an ideology, even a religion; Bringhurst brings these to light. What I like most about Bringhurst is his focus on developing the designer's judgment rather than laying down precise rules to follow.  To that end, I'd like you choose a different font for each of your writing assignments and your final assignment.  Make sure it is a nice, professional-looking font.  That eliminates ugly fonts as well as script, blackletter, stencil, Klingon, etc.  Don't use Times New Roman.  It's a nice font, but it's the default font in Word and therefore overused.  Also avoid fixed-width fonts like Courier.  Put a note at the end of your assignments saying what font you used and why.  Include a description of the where & when the font was used, and who designed it.  [You can just copy & paste this part from the pdf of Bringhurst.]

    Thus as we move forward, think of IDW as a resource that gives a Technical Writer a series of finished, "real-world" products and case studies to see in action; think of UPD as a resource that provides a Technical Writer with a theoretical vocabulary with which to discuss the principles and concepts behind the organization and presentation of information.

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