Desktop Publishing Tips and Suggestions
- Start your design with a thumbnail sketch.
- Learn how to use white space effectively. White space is space intentionally
left blank. Why? Because text needs room to breathe. When text is crowded
to the edge of pages, it leaves the reader feeling cramped and crowded.
(see this example)
- People are more likely to read narrower text. It is easier on the
eyes. Conversely, text that extend across the whole screen look boring.
Various ways: columns, table, sidebars, wrapped images, etc.
- Many novices tend to think that every item has to be set off from
every other item with a box around it or rules. This creates cluttered
designs. The solution is to use boxes and rules sparingly and use white
space and artwork more often to separate things. (They also suggest
that we stop trying to cram as much on a page as possible, and use more
pages whenever we can.)
- According to most professionals, the biggest failure of novice desktop
users is the failure to proofread. They say the desktop publisher should
avoid proofreading their own copy becayse we're too familiar with it and we'll
miss glaring mistakes. Proofing words backward, by
beginning at the end of an article and reading one word at a time was
suggested. This eliminates comprehension and forces you to read only
one word at a time for spelling.
- Avoid designing with Times New Roman. This font is unremarkable. It’s very pervasiveness makes it commonplace. Therefore, your creativity can be compromized when using this commonplace font.
- Just because you may have 500 fonts on your computer, doesn't mean
you have to use them all. Limit each publication to just a few typefaces to avoid
clutter. Less is more, and many professionals say two typefaces are
best per document.
- Use centering sparingly. Do no center large blocks of body text because it is hard to read.
- Do not center bulleted items. Keep them left aligned to aid in quickly scanning the information.
- Never use underlining — use Italics instead. In the old days a typewriter couldn't do italics, so you had to underline. Today there’s no
excuse for using underlining. So when you want to emphasize something,
or it’s a title of a magazine, book etc. use Italics.
For instance, don't you feel like clicking this?
- Avoid using a great deal of reverse type. Reverse adds tremendous
"weight" to a page and will grab all the attention on that page. Ask
yourself if this idea really deserves that much attention?
- Don’t type in all caps. For one-line headings, all caps may be okay.
However, for lengthier text, typing in all caps come across as shouting.
Plus, it’s hard to read.
- Learn to use em dash and stop using two hyphens (—). In InDesign,
an em dash is achieved by pressing [Alt]+ [Shift] + - simultaneously.
- Add images with careful thought. The images you choose should
complement your text. And just like other elements of good design, use
clip art in moderation.
- Don't forget the basics. Always include the who, what, when, where, how, why of your communication piece in a meaningful way.
- Examine the work of professionals to evaluate their design strategies and spur your own creativity. Train your eye to spot techniques that direct a reader’s attention
or organize information effectively. See what draws you in as a reader/consumer and what doesn’t work so well. (I took this tip from: GVEP. Read their entire publication for more information. )