09 July 2009

Sawyer’s rules for layout

Science fiction writer Robert J. Sawyer was talking about books, but he could have just as easily been talking about posters. Sawyer touches on something I discuss a lot here, namely that designing text information takes effort and craft:

Yes, designing books is actually a job – it’s not something you just wing.

Sawyer’s rules for book layout:

  1. Be conservative.

  2. If you haven’t seen somebody else do it that way before, it’s probably a bad idea.

  3. Actually have a published book at your side while designing your own – to see how it’s done.

  4. Don’t suck.

I would add to #2, “Even if you have seen somebody do it that way, it could still be a bad idea.” This is particularly true for science and research posters, because so many are made by people who are doing their best, but are ultimately winging it.

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