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Layout and Design for Publishing via the Print Media

Design for Print

Long before the Internet evolved to make publishing via the Web a reality, designers were focused on designing for print:

  • Postcard and business reply mailers
  • Flyers
  • Greeting cards
  • Newsletters
  • Business forms
  • Newsprint: Newspaper broad sheets and tabloids
  • Magazines
  • Corporate-image pieces (such as annual and interim reports)
  • Marketing and market-support materials
  • Manuals
  • Books

The typical reader public has no appreciation for the considerations that should be indigenous to this publishing arena, including but not limited to:

  • Who is the target audience, and how does the difference in authored content and length impact copy fit and design?
  • Should the tone be formal or informal, corporate or personal, persuasive or to-the-point factual?
  • What kind of paper stock is best suited for the targeted result and means of distribution? What ink and colors should be involved — four-color process, spot, varnish — and will dye cutting be beneficial?
  • What typeface(s) would work best, would most effectively complement the tone of the text being conveyed?
  • What kind of shelf life should we expect for this piece? What kind of quantities would be warranted?
  • Who will need to be involved in the planning and development stages, who will be previewing and proofing, and how many people will need to sign off at each stage before we can move on to the next step?
  • How much is budgeted vs. how much will what is expected likely cost to produce this printed piece? Are there adequate human and physical resources available to accomplish it in the time frame permitted?

The above are just a handful of considerations often requisite in such an undertaking. And nowadays, it is increasingly presumed that:

Designers Usually Wear Many Hats
Remember when publishing/design departments included a separate typesetter, designer, paste-up artist, and even a separate key liner? Then someone in pre-press was involved in camera and film work and other for manually stripping separations. On and on, gradually over time, we are seeing more being done by fewer people. (Often the print designer gets to develop the Web site as well — needing to master, or at least exhibit competence in, complementary but clearly opposite design disciplines.

From Traditional to Their Digital Equivalent.
So, although today's tools are digital, I do not consider myself merely a technician just because I design primarily on the computer. The Web is littered with sites built by technicians and, I must admit, most of their technical skills likely exceed mine. But I am far more technically oriented than the vast majority of graphic designers who can't troubleshoot their computer system, install RAM modules, or even configure software. But they may well be more skilled graphic artists than I am.

In graphical terms, I consider myself more of a designer than an artist. After all, I began in the creative profession, not as a graphic artist, but as a writer. Corporate America is notorious for its underappreciation of writers, believing that any professional who sits behind a desk can write. That increasingly led me to pursue what I knew most white-collared executives (i.e., suits) could never claim to be: designers. However, some tried to lay claim to that as well, if only because they could leverage their position to impose their designs on those who knew better. But if they truly thought they knew design, why did they not know of the renowned Jan White?

Subsequently, my need to understand the underpinnings of all things I stay involved with led me into the endless world of geekdom. I'll never be the ultimate geek, either, but I believe that I have accumulated, with this collective experience, a rare integration of skills under one cranial roof.

Therein lies my coining of what I consider my particular distinction:

i.d.d.™ — integrated•digital•design.
While I might not represent the acme (zenith?) in any one of the aforementioned disciplines, I have grown up in all of them, to varying degrees, enough to appreciate the importance of their lack of exclusivity when it comes to the finished piece. That is, writing (particularly in professional applications) seldom can succeed apart from presentation or packaging.

Yes, today's "Digital Design" must also be "Integrated Design."

Communication depends on design and the medium in which it is conveyed. They cannot be considered in isolation, but are each components of the communications project as a whole — and all should play a compelling and critical role in the shaping of that communication.

The interrelationship of the written word with the medium and the design considerations particular to that medium can never be ignored.