Syllabus: Document Production and Design

This course will give writing students an introduction to layout, design, and typographic principles as well as the technical foundation and practical experience to produce professional documents for print production. Students will work from a foundation in rhetoric and basic graphic design principles and produce a range of document types. In the classical rhetorical tradition, instruction in rhetoric is guided by the so-called five canons of rhetoric: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. Modern students of rhetoric and writing can participate in this classical approach by discovering new ways that these guidelines continue to help us to not overlook the full range of effective discourse.

Writers in the modern workplace must not only have rich sources of imagination and invention, but they must also be familiar enough with the available theories and technologies to arrange, present, and deliver their ideas in ways that are rhetorically appropriate and effective. This course--as a writing course--will stick close to the rhetorical tradition, viewing our design process and written products as outcomes of rhetorical awareness.

By the end of the semester, you should be able to:

  • Understand basic document design principles.
  • Analyze and discuss document design principles in critically informed ways.
  • Employ effective design strategies for creating documents for specific rhetorical situations.
  • Develop strategies for working with layouts, typography, and images.
  • Use Adobe InDesign to produce documents.

Rhetorical Goals:
Technical and design aspects of this course should enhance the student's rhetorical awareness and equip them to contextualize document design and print production problems in a rhetorical framework.

  • students will learn how to develop design ideas.
  • students will learn to describe what makes one printed page look and function better than another.
  • students will learn how different kinds of design influence readers' response as well as add to document usability.
  • students will learn how visual elements contribute to document design and function within an organization.
  • students will develop a larger awareness of how composition, typography, color, and layout work together for rhetorical effect.
  • students will develop a more complex understanding of the various forms of printing (photocopy, offset, digital) and how those forms are received in a print-laden culture.
  • students will learn how the material form of printed projects (paper, dimension, binding, packaging, etc.) complete the writing process.

Technical Goals:
Students will be introduced to various technical aspects of print production. Most should be ready to move on to an intermediate level on their own after completing this course.

  • students will learn to use Adobe InDesign.
  • students will learn about pre-press production requirements such as
  • . . . font management, color and ink use, link management, page imposition, trapping, page bleeds, and printer's marks.
  • students will learn the basics of offset print production and how it influences their design and document preparation.
  • students will learn how to create, color separate, and prepare PDF files from application files for common offset printing.
  • students will learn how to read and understand printers' spec sheets.
  • students will learn to use other software (e.g., Photoshop, fireworks) well enough to manipulate stock images and make them print ready for InDesign or other applications.