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ENGL/JOUR 4850-8856 Information Design / Mondays 5:30-8:10 / ASH 145

Instructor Contact Information

Dr. Tracy Bridgeford (

Office: ASH 189P
Phone: 554.3312
Office Hours:

Mondays 3:00-5:00 and by appointment

Course website:

Bridgeford Homepage:

Bridgeford Textbook:

Course Description

Information design is concerned with the presentation of print or digital content. This course is designed to help you develop a professional sensibility for making stylistic choices appropriate for particular situations and audiences and the skills to implement those choices.

My perspective of information design comes from Saul Carliner's Information and Document Design (2006):

I define information design as: preparing communication products so that they achieve the performance objectives established for them. . . . Information design differs from document design in that information design addresses the issue of whether readers can understand a text, not merely whether they can find information on it. (pp. 2-3)

This definition shows, I think, the complex, problem-solving process involved in the presentation of text.

This course will introduce you to a variety of strategies for designing and integrating visual and textual elements in ways that not only make a document more accessible to readers but also demonstrates the ability to address design problems. Course discussion and readings will focus on analysis of the design problem, principles of effective design, and visual conventions. We will use software from the Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Dreamweaver, InDesign, Acrobat, and Illustrator), which is available in our classroom (ASH 145) and the Criss Library (basement). I will provide some demos, but you will need to take some inititative for your learning of this software (see "Learning Software" below).

Course Objectives

In this course, you will learn

to use a design language.

to understand the design process as observation, definition, design,
verification, and revision.

to analyze audience, purpose, and situation as they pertain to the design situation

to apply principles of design effectively.

to develop a design sensibility through standards, style sheets, and practice.

to develop technical skills with design software.

Course Policies

Tracy Bridgeford

All course policies for technical communication courses are described on my Practices of Technical Communication textbook. Students are required to become familiar with all policies, including....

Attendance & Participation
Students with Disabilities
About Grading

Required Books & Materials

Non-Designer's Design BookRobin Williams, Non-Designer's Design Book (available soon from the UNO Bookstore)



Non-Designer's WebbookRobin Williams, Non-Designer's Web Book (available soon from the UNO Bookstore)



Terrarium, Scott Russell Sanders (available at UNO bookstore)

USB Flash Drive (at least 1 gb)

Recommended Books

Many of the books listed here are available as used copies on Amazon.

From Design Into Print: Preparing Graphics and Text for Professional Printing, Sandee Cohen


There is no one way to learn software application. Everyone learns software differently. Some people prefer to have a book to consult, some rely on the help menus, and some search the web for tutorials. I do not require any one way to learn the software used in class. It is up to individual students to understand their best method for learning and to seek out appropriate resources.

One of the best ways I've found to learn a software application is to try to recreate a design I've seen.

Although I will provide some short demos during class time, I do expect students to seek out the resources they are most comfortable with. What I can offer are recommendations.

1.Adobe offer its help system in a special website called the Adobe Design Workshop, which provides mini-Flash movies of various techniques for learning most of its software.
2.The UNO library offers acces to Safari Books Online, a resources favored by many designers today.
3.I have found the Peachpit Press books to be well written and easy to follow. Generally, they cost anywhere from $20-$35, but I have seen quite a few used copies on You could probably get away with purchasing CS3 versions, but it will not include instruction about some very cool new features. Peachpit press offers PDF versions of their manual for a lower price. I've also used the Bible series.

If you are unfamiliar with the programs in the Adobe Creative Suite, you need to think about how best to go about learning them.

I have found that the Peachpit Press Visual Quick Start instruction books are particularly well done. They are offered in print form and PDF, and I have seen many copies available as used copies. We will be using the following programs: Illustrator (vector illustrations), Photoshop (image manipulation), Dreamweaver (website creation and editing), and InDesign (layout).

Dreamweaver CS4 InDesign CS4 Photoshop CS4 Illustrator CS4

I also like the BIble series:

Dreamweaver CS4 Indesign CS4 Photoshop CS4 Illustrator CS4

The UNO library also proivdes access to Safari Tech Books Online. Unfortunately, they have purchased only three licenses, which means that only three people at one time may use the service.

Click on the Resources tab for links to other resources.