Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Document Design: Principles and Techniques

The design of a document is of great importance as with one look at document, reader’s will judge and form an impression to decide to continue reading of worth a second look; as Schriver (1997) suggests, the typography of a document can influence a readers perception of the content and help them engage with the subject matter. Therefore, document designers ‘need to be aware of the meaning-making processes’ Kress & van Leeuwen (2006) in order to create an effective, comprehensible and reader-friendly document. For this reason, document designers should study their target audience carefully in order to cater to their demands.

Penman (1998) asserts “documents need to be structured to accommodate these two quiet different reading habits” referring to “flippers” those fan the pages in search of something that will capture their eye and the more structured readers who read from the top to bottom of the page. Document designers can group the important information in the text in bullet form as well as bold key points, to help the reader sift through the document’s content.

Besides that, document designers should also apply a sense of diversity of elements when producing a document; they should use text and images to maximise readers’ understanding. As according to Kress & van Leeuwen (2006, p. 19) society today has become more visual literate. Walsh (2006) states that images are used in the feature to improve reader’s aesthetic and imaginative; this is also affirmed by Shriver (1997) who states that ‘Pictures arouse the reader’s interest and curiosity and are often well remembered even long after people see them.’ thus, it is essential to include images that capture readers’ attention.

Concurrently, document designers should also be wary when incorporating images. Schirato & Yell (2000) states that, meaning is made as members of a particular culture, society, social grouping or community as agreed to. The demographic profile of the target audience is significant when a document is being generated. For example, in Malaysia, document designers should be careful when using controversial images that can ignite racial tension among the multicultural society.

My group presentation was based on the reading “The Textual Shift: Examining the reading process with print, visual and multimodal texts” by Maureen Walsh. We incorporated proper document design elements into our presentation such as colours and appropriate font sizes.

In order to enhance viewer’s understanding as well as to capture their attention, we used images in our slides.

We also arranged the vital details of our presentation in bold text and grouped them in bullet form.


Kress, G. & van Leeuwen, T. 2006. Reading images. Chapter 1: The semiotic landscape: language and visual communication.

Penman, R 1998, ‘Document structures and readers’ habits’, Communication News, vol.11, no.2, pp. 1 & 10-11.

Schirato, T. & Yell, S. 2000, Communication as Social Practice, Allen & Unwin, Australia

Schriver, K.A. 1997, Chapter 6 in Dynamics in document design: creating text for readers, Wiley Computer Pub, New York

Walsh, M. 2006,” ‘Textual shift’: Examining the reading process with print, visual and multimodal texts,” Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, vol.29, no.1, p.24-37.

No comments:

Post a Comment