Editing by Design

Improve your design with Jan V. White’s Editing by Design. This classic masterpiece will show you how to attract magazines’ readers from every possible angle. For instance, it shows how to grab readers’ attention while they are flipping through the magazine and how to use space appropriately instead of wasting it.

Even though Editing by Design focuses on graphic design, I find many elements could be applied to the web as well. For example, rhythmic placement (sameness) could be used to help visitors get a sense of where they are. The rhythmic placement of a navigation menu would help increase usability. With his third edition, White has updated the materials to cover design for screen as well; therefore, he mentioned principles that applied toward the web along the way.

Complimenting his explanations with the witty hand-draw cartoon illustrations, White makes it easy to comprehend the fundamental of design including: layout, typography, color, space, and much more. White starts off with The Multi-page Medium and Inducement where he gives us an invaluable psychology tour of how readers approach a magazine. My favorite chapter is Originality because of the useful tips from White:

You don’t need to be “original” if you:
1. Do not overfill the pages
2. Split information into its component parts
3. Organize space on the page into well-designed zones
4. Devise shapes appropriately to the material
5. Vary the visual texture the way the text is written
6. Don’t mix information types within the info-unit
7. Use contrast to help searchers find what they are looking for
8. Use the same visual techniques throughout
9. Use verbo/visual means appropriate to the material

Yes, but what if you’re stuck for ideas?
Work at it
Develop and keep up a file
Loosen thinking
Forgive yourself
Eliminate the negative
Use your hands
Describe the subject in words
Look for patterns
Substitute a pictorial metaphor
Use a detail
Transform the familiar
Look for a new angle

Finally, the Q&A section is useful for designers (web, graphic, information), art directors, and editors. If you wear one of the hats mentioned, Editing by Design is for you. The content presented is timeless so buy it, read it, learn it, and apply it.