Online resources for teaching basics of good document design?
July 21, 2015 7:09 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some compact, relatively self-contained resources (posters, handouts, Youtube videos, the like) that lay out the fundamentals of usable document design in terms beginners could understand: just very basic principles like white space, balance, choosing fonts, use of color, etc.

Bonus points for resources that are entertaining in themselves (along the lines of Death by Powerpoint)-- and if you've got a really stellar print-only source, then please, throw that in the mix, as well. What's out there to help laypeople really punch up those church bulletins and missing-cat posters?
posted by Bardolph to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 76 users marked this as a favorite
practical typography and web typography.
posted by - at 7:34 AM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

The author Robin Williams has been a good source of advice for beginners for ages - The Non-designer's Design Book is one of hers, she also wrote The Mac is Not a Typewriter (one million years ago). It's a more in-depth source than you're looking for but it's a nice one to have around for people who want to read more.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:43 AM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Dead tree wise, Williams' Non-Designer series, and Golombisky & Hagen's, White Space is Not Your Enemy.
posted by jadepearl at 7:44 AM on July 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I think Before & After Magazine is pretty great for beginners -- it's very accessible and it shows clear examples of what works as well as what doesn't work. Check out their Free Stuff page for a good start.
posted by ourobouros at 8:40 AM on July 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

I came to recommend Robin Williams "The Non-designer's Design Book". If you rigorously apply her lessons, your work will look much better than most actual professionally-produced design work.
posted by nanook at 4:38 PM on July 21, 2015

Typography for Lawyers, as the name implies, is a good guide for lay people. I've read some other stuff by Matthew Butterick, and he seems to have some oddball but strongly held opinions. That probably doesn't set him apart from other designers.
posted by adamrice at 5:53 PM on July 21, 2015

following up from adamrice's suggestion, Buttrick also has a site called Butterick’s Practical Typography which seems to be a lot of the same content but for more generalized use (and seems to have more 'how to turn this on/change this in Word/Pages/HTML/etc' instructions.)
posted by whittaker at 8:21 AM on July 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Butterick has also developed a new online typesetting system called Pollen that's pretty amazing. (Fun talk from RacketCon 2014: "Like a Blind Squirrel in a Ferrari")
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:46 AM on July 25, 2015

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