14 November 2013

Common problems

I teach a technical writing class in which I ask students to create posters. I give the students some instruction and and good ideas for poster layout. Generally, their work is as good or better than conference posters I see.

The top three problems are:

  1. Clutter: It’s hard to generalize the sources of clutter. It ranges from unnecessary borders to gradient fills to too many elements on the page.
  2. Proximity: People underestimate how much white space they need around objects. In particular, they don’t put big enough margins around pictures.
  3. Text greyness: Even though my students generally do a good job of making the text large enough to be readable, they often end up with too much of it.

If there is a common element to these three problems, it’s the urge to put too much stuff on the page. Editing and cutting is a tough skill that takes a lot of practice to master.

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