Advanced Document Design LogoAdvanced Document Design

Course Goals | Required Texts and Technologies | Projects Policies

Class Plan
Class Week Topic Class Plan Assignment Due
5 -19 Introduction and overview

Discuss this class, and the unique assignment set.

Determine THEME of your readings--on what will you be leading class?

Working as a group, create an overview of your existing knowledge of document design.

Discuss readings, select common readings from list. 

5 -26 Infographics Discuss Cairo's "Foundations" (Chapters 1 - 4)


Overfishing: A One Minute crash Course

Crate-Gate: Mitt Romney and Seamus

Useless Infographics

For in-class design:

Memorial Day Information

6-2 Infographics Discuss Cairo's "Cognition" (Chapers 5 - 9)

Sample Data for in-class project

Excel Tutorials

6-9 Design Consequences

MEET IN 3110

Class leading 1

Discuss Profile 1: John Grimwade

Lancaster, A. (2006). Rethinking our use of humanistic aspects: Effects of technical communication beyond the intended audience. Technical Communication, 53(2), 212 - 224.

Albers, M. J. (2011). Usability and information relationships: Considering content relationships and contextual awareness when testing complex information. In M. J. Albers & B. Still (Eds.), Usability of somplex information systems: Evaluation of user interaction (109 - 130). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Rough design due for in-class critique.
6-16 Ethics and Risk Communication

Class leading 2

Discuss Profile 2: Juan Velasco and Fernando Baptista

Teston, C. (2012). Moving from artifact to action: A grounded investigation of visual displays of evidence during medical deliberations. Technical Communication Quarterly, (21)3, 187 - 209.

Ding, H., & Zhang, J. (2010). Social media and participatory risk communication during the H1N1 flu epidemic: A comparative study of the United States and China. China Media Research, 6(4), 80 - 91.

Semi-final design due electronically.
6-23 Design Aesthetics and the User Experience

MEET in 3110

Class leading 3

Winn, W., & Beck, K. (2002). The perseuasive power of desgin elements on an e-commerce web site. Technical Communication, (49)1, 17 - 35.

Ibrahim, N., Shiratuddin, M. F., & Wong, K. (2013). Persuasion techniques for tourism website design. In The International Conference on E-Technologies and Business on the Web (EBW2013) (pp. 175-180). The Society of Digital Information and Wireless Communication.

Discuss Profile 3: Steve Duenes and Xaquin G. V.

6-30 Instructional Design

Class leading 4

Stothard, P., & Van Den Hengel, A. (2010). Development of serious computer game based training module and its integration into working at heights mine site induction—Part II. Mining Technology, 119(4), 199 - 204.

Qiuye, W. (2000). A cross-cultural comparison of the use of graphics in scientific and technical communication. Technical Communication, 47(4), 553-560.

Discuss Profile 4: Hannah Fairfield

Rough infographic due for in-class critique.
7-7 Illustration and Design

Class leading 5

Dombrowski, P. (2003). Ernst Haeckel's Controversial Visual Rhetoric. Technical Communication Quarterly, 12(3), 303-319.

Goodsell, D. S., & Johnson, G. T. (2007). Filling in the gaps: artistic license in education and outreach. PLoS Biol, 5(12), e308.

Halpern, M. K., & Rogers, H. S. (2013). Inseparable Impulses: The Science and Aesthetics of Ernst Haeckel and Charley Harper. Leonardo, 46(5), 465-470.

Discuss Profile 6: Geoff McGhee

Semi-final infographic due electronically.
7-14   No class in classroom  
7-21 Workflow Practices

Class leading 6

Hughes, R. G., Cain, C., & Haque, S. (2008). Organizational workflow and its impact on work quality.

Gurak, L. J., & Duin, A. H. (2004). The impact of the Internet and digital technologies on teaching and research in technical communication. Technical Communication Quarterly, 13(2), 187-198.

Discuss Profile 10: Stefanie Posavec

7-28   PRESENTATION DAY All FINAL components of Expertise Project due.

Course Goals

In Document Design, you learned that a document conveys meaning in many ways. What a document communicates visually, beyond the verbal component, is often as important as the written words themselves. You learned basic design principles, and studied many theories of design. In Advanced Document Design we extend on core principles and theories to offer an in-depth exploration of the tools and practices that you will likely encounter as a practicing technical communicator. We will consider the design and rhetoric of infographics, logos, graphs, and charts, as well as look further into the practices of usability testing as they apply to document design. Additionally, each student in this course will become an expert in a design technology of their choice: As we have access to the full Adobe suite of tools, you may choose to specialize in such tools as InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Edge Animate, Fireworks, and more.

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

Demonstrate a rich understanding of core document design principles and theories

Demonstrate proficiency with a series of industry-standard design technologies

Demonstrate a level of expertise with a design technology of your choice

Thoroughly and proficiently explain how you apply your design skills from within technical communication

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Required Texts and Technologies

Cairo, Albert. (2013). The Functional Art. Berkely, CA: New Riders.

Access to the full Adobe Creative Cloud Suite


ON FORMATTING: All writings in this class should follow APA format. This is not a genre class (one focused on teaching how to write essays, proposals, research papers, etc.). Instead, this class is designed to teach design and design theory. It is your responsibility to make sure that you are submitting your work in an appropriate format. For help on APA style please see the APA handbook or the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue.

Leading Class Discussion (25): Once during the semester you will be required to lead class. You will lead discussion on an article of your choosing, then take us through a series of activities designed to solidify your grasp of the theories and practices embodied in your article. Your presentation must include a visual presentation (PowerPoint, Prezi, etc.), a handout, and rich discussion. For full points, your presentation must:

Thoroughly discuss the theories embodied in your chosen article

Introduce us to any technologies discussed in the article

Demonstrate application of the discussed theories and principles

Offer insight into potential application

Your presentation, including discussion, application, and any associated workshopping can take the entire class period, but should take no less than 1.5 hours.

You should distribute your chosen text, along with any other preperatory materials, to the class at least 1 week prior to your presentation.

Expertise Project (75 total): Your final project for this class is designed to show your expertise with a design tool of your choosing. Your project will include a presentation, an informational/instructional poster or infographic, a design of your choosing, and a memo detailing your process, design choices, and potential applications. Given the nature of this class, grading on this project will be different than what you are likely familiar with. During the course of the semester you will submit to me semi-final versions of your work. I will offer critiques and assign a conditional grade. At the completion of the course you will submit your final work, which I will then re-assess for a final, formal grade.

Presentation (15): Your presentation should introduce us to your design, then reverse engineer your entire process to show your entire design process, including workflow, application of theories and principles, and the technologies you used.

Informational Poster/Infographic (25): Your poster should offer a process-oriented approach to completing the design you have created. It should introduce us to the technologies you used, then move us through the process in such a way that we could ostensibly re-create your work.

Design (15): The design you create is the heart of this project, but can be anything you choose. A complex logo, an instructional booklet, a video, a series of technical illustrations, etc. You must clear the design with me first, but what you choose to design is largely up to you. That said, I expect your design to be complex, theoretically sound, and obviously based within the world of technical communication.

Justification Memo (20): Your memo puts into writing all of your choices made throughout this project. It should be thorough, draw extensively from relevant literature, and fully justify your design, infographic, and presentation. I expect numerous references to relevant outside source material.

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You will fail the class if you do not attempt and submit ALL major assignments. Late assignments will receive a grade of zero (0).

Please note that while this is a design class, I place as much weight on your ability to articulate your reasoning as I do your design itself. Grades on assignments will be determined according to the following criteria--note that most sections refer to elements of both your written reports and the document you have designed.

A (90-99%) The document is superior. It exceeds all the objectives of the assignment. The presentation and discussion is ethical, sophisticated, thorough, thoughtful, and ideally suited for the audience. The style is clear and appropriate to the subject, purpose, and audience. The organization and design of the document make the information understandable, accessible, and usable. The mechanics and grammar are correct. Typography and design elements are sophisticated, ethical, and appropriate to audience and purpose. Outside information is cited appropriately.

B (80-89%) The document is good. It meets all of the objectives of the assignment, but requires minor improvements or contains only easily correctable errors in organization, style, design, grammar, or mechanics. Presentation and discussion are good, but could be addressed in more depth. Typography and design elements are good, ethical, and appropriate to audience and purpose. Outside information is mostly cited appropriately.

C (70-79%) The document is adequate. It omits useful information or requires significant improvement in organization, style, design, grammar, or mechanics. Presentation and discussion are superficial in places.Typography and design elements are not entirely suited to audience and purpose, have questionable ethics, and/or require significant improvement in order to function for their intended purpose. Some outside information is cited appropriately.

D (60-69%) The document is disappointing. It meets some of the objectives of the assignment but ignores others; the discussion is inadequately developed, omits important information, or displays numerous or major errors in organization, style, design, grammar, or mechanics. Typography and design elements are poorly suited to audience and purpose, lack awareness of ethics, and/or largely fail in their intended purpose. Most outside information is not cited appropriately.

F (0-59%) The document is unsatisfactory. It omits critical information, does something other than the assignment required, or displays major or excessive errors in organization, style, design, grammar, or mechanics. Typography and design elements fail to accomplish desired goals and/or lack ethical awareness. Outside information is not cited.

Team Assignments

Team assignments receive grades based on group and individual work. It is possible that unsatisfactory participation in team assignments will result in a lower participation grade or a lower grade on the team assignment itself. You may be called upon to evaluate your own or your team members' performance on group assignments.

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The following policies intend to help you develop and display professional work habits, both in individual and team work. These habits include meeting deadlines, doing required work, and regular attendance. Please read these policies carefully.

Attendance and Tardiness Policy

*While all students should plan to attend every class, graduate students, in particular, should not miss class. Ever. You are allowed 2 unexcused absences in this class. All unexcused absences beyond 2 will result in a loss of 1 point from your final semester's point total for each absence.

The 2 absences that do not deduct points from your grade are not considered "allowed," "free," or "permitted"-- they only result in no points being deducted from your grade. Any quizzes or participation grades given on a day when you are absent without documentation will result in a grade of zero (0) for that quiz/participation assignment and may not be made up.

Do not show up late to class. If a participation grade or quiz is given during the first 15 minutes and a student arrives late, a grade of zero (0) will be received for that assignment.

A student will be excused from attending classes or other required activities, including examinations, for documented University-approved functions (such as competing in an athletic event), or the observance of a religious holy day and the time necessary to travel for this observance. The student will not be penalized for the absence and will be permitted to take an exam or complete an assignment missed during the excused absence. The policy applies only to the documented University-approved events and official holy days of tax-exempt religious institutions. No prior notification of the instructor is required, though is requested.

Other than exceptions related to university-related events and religious circumstances, only a note from a doctor or death notice for an immediate family member will result in an absence being excused. Personal circumstances are not considered acceptable for excusing an absence. Please see Auburn University's policies for additional materials relating to what constitutes an "excused" absence. Back to Top Dropping the Course If you drop the course, you must do so in person at the Office of the Registrar. I cannot drop you from the course. It is your responsibility to make yourself aware of the drop dates.

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Due Dates and Submission Technology

You will fail the class if you do not attempt and submit ALL major assignments. Late assignments will receive a grade of zero (0). It is your responsibility to turn in your work on time. Computer-related excuses will not be accepted. In the event of difficulties with our course management system (i.e., Canvas), you may email me your work to get it in on time, though you will still be responsible for submitting it through the appropriate channels when the difficulties are resolved. If you believe you have a legitimate excuse for submitting late work you may submit to me a formal appeal. I reserve the right to reject your appeal.

If you are absent the day a physical assignment is due, I will not accept the work via email. You must make arrangements with me to submit work before the deadline or put your work in my department mailbox. If extenuating circumstances apply (see below), your work will be due the day after your return from your athletic event or the day after you attend the emergency appointment or funeral. Electronic documents must be saved in the following format: lastname_firstinitial_assignmentname.

Documents saved in the .docx format are generally compatible across systems. However, formatting is a major aspect of this class. To that end, you may wish to save your file as a .pdf to insure that all formatting appears to me exactly as you intended. There are several free options available to you, beyond those offered by most office software suites, including bullzip,pdfill, and cutepdf, among others. The excuse "it didn't look like that on my computer" will not be accepted.

I may give quizzes at any time during the class. These quizzes cover the specified readings, but they may also cover material introduced in previous classes/chapters. I do not offer make-up quizzes for any reason other than absences for university business (and only with proper university documentation), documented illness (a clinic must document the episode of illness if you have a chronic illness), or the death of an immediate family member. Additionally, late homework exercises will not be accepted under any circumstances.

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Basic Technology Requirements

Computers You are expected to be familiar with the day-to-day operation of computers including email (and sending attachments) and standard software. If you are not familiar with basic computing skills, speak to me as soon as possible, so that we can familiarize you with basic procedures.

You are also expected to have regular access to computing technology whether it be your computer at home or the computers provided by the university. The statement, "I don't have access to a computer" is not acceptable.

Hardware and Disk Media Requirements

It is your responsibility to ensure that the computer(s) and disk(s) you use are functional and that you have, in the case of technological failure, backed up your data. Bring a USB drive to class, keep your work on it, and keep your work updated.

Email Requirement

You are required to have a viable email account. When sending email to me, your instructor, or to your classmates, please ensure the subject line is formatted as: RE: ENGL 7030- [Your Last Name] Identifying emails from students is difficult, especially when sent from accounts outside of the university. If you do not include a valid subject line it may go straight to junk mail, or I may delete your email myself.

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Plagiarism includes any use of words or ideas of another writer that would allow readers unfamiliar with the source to assume that the words or ideas originated with you. THIS INCLUDES USE OF IMAGES. Policy does not allow me to judge whether an instance of plagiarism is accidental or deliberate. If I find in your work 1) another writer's work inserted without quotation marks or acknowledgment, 2) a close, unacknowledged paraphrase of someone else's writing, or 3) another writer's research or analysis presented without acknowledgment, then I will treat it like a plagiarized assignment and deal with it appropriately. Sanctions range from failing the assignment to expulsion from the university. I take the issue of plagiarism very seriously, and will enforce the university's plagiarism policies to their full extent.

Please see Auburn University's policies relating to plagiarism and penalties.

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Special Needs

Auburn University makes reasonable accommodations for people with documented disabilities. I will adapt methods, materials, or testing for equitable participation. During the first week of class, set up a meeting with me. Bring the Accommodation Memo and Instructor Verification Form to the meeting and discuss what you need for equitable participation in this class. If you do not have an Accommodation Memo but need special accommodations, make an appointment with the Program for Students with Disabilities (Haley Center 1244; 334-844-2096; or All communication between a student, the Program for Students with Disabilities, and his or her professor is confidential.

Religious Holidays

Students requiring to miss class due to the observance of an officially recognized religious holy day are asked to consult with me in advance so we can schedule missed work accordingly.

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