Course Goals | Required Texts and Technologies | Projects | How to succeed | Grading Policy | Attendance | Dropping the Course | Due Dates and Submissions | Technology Requirements | Plagiarism | ADA and Religious Holiday Statement | Back to Index

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Schedule for ENGL 4030

Schedule and readings subject to change

Class Week/Date


Class Plan


Assignment Due

Mon 8-18 Introduction & Principles of Design


Policies, procedures, and class overview


Wed 8-20 Principles of Design

Document Design 1

K& H 1

Mon 8-25

Principles of Design

Document Design 2

K & H 2

Warde, B. (1956). The Crystal Goblet. In H. Jacob, Sixteen Essays in Typography (pp. 11-17). New York: The World Publishing Company.

RR 1


Wed 8-27   Photoshop tutorial v. 1   1
Mon 9-1 Labor Day, no class      
Wed 9-3   Photoshop tutorial v. 2   1
Mon 9-8


Document Design 3

Discuss Rhetorical Analysis

K & H 3

Wed 9-10

Theories of Design

Process: The Document

Document Design 4

In-class Document Analysis

K & H 4

Carliner, S. (2000). Physical, Cognitive, and Affective: A Three-part Framework for Information Design. Technical Communication, 47(4), 561-576.

RR 2


Mon 9-15   InDesign Tutorial Day    
Wed 9-17   InDesign Tutorial Day 2  

Rhetorical Analysis


2 (tutorials)

Mon 9-22

Logo Design

The Adobe Package

Basic Design Principles

Discuss Williams

Design Workshop

In class: Bulletin Board Flyer Redesign (group project)

Williams 1-7


Quiz on Williams 1 - 7



Wed 9-24  

Design Workshop

Discuss Williams

In class: Bulletin Board Flyer Redesign continued

Williams 8-14


Quiz on Williams 8 - 14


Mon 9-29

Process: Pages


Bulletin Board Flyer Redesign continued (present and discuss)

K & H 5

Wed 10-1

Process: Type

Document Design 5

Document Design 6


K & H 6

Brumberger, E. R. (2002). The Rhetoric of Typography : The Persona of Typeface and Text. Technical Communication , 50 (2), 206-2236.

RR 3


Mon 10-6


Document Design 7

Discuss Instructions

Color Scheme Designer

K & H 7


Wed 10-8

Process: Graphics

Document Design 8

Workshop Flyer/Poster Assignment

Creative Commons

Begin Flyer/Poster assignment.

K & H 8

Mon 10-13   Midterm Exam on Principles and Theory   15
Wed 10-15


Document Design 9

Designing tables in MS Word

Workshop Instructions

K & H 9

Richards, A. R. (2003). Argument and Authority in the Visual Representations of Science. Technical Communication Quarterly, 12(2).




Mon 10-20   Poster Workshop    
Wed 10-22  

Discuss usability testing and plain language.

Workshop if time.

Mazur, B. (2000). Revisiting Plain Language. Technical Communication, 47(2), 205-211.


Mon 10-27   Workshop  


Wed 10-29   Draft of Poster due in class for usability testing.  


Mon 11-3   Discuss final posters/ workshop group project  

Flyer/Poster (and discussion)


Wed 11-5   Workshop  



Mon 11-10   Workshop    
Wed 11-12   Workshop  



Mon 11-17   Peer Review of ongoing group projects  

RR5 (Discuss the readings you find most compelling and contextualize against ongoing work)


Wed 11-19   Peer Review of ongoing group projects/ workshop if time  


Mon 11-24 Thanksgiving Break, no class      
Wed 11-26        
Mon 12-1   Presentation Grading Rubric Project Presentations 15
Wed 12-3   Presentation Grading Rubric Project Presentations  
Wed 12-10 Final Exam 12:00 - 2:30    

Completion Report Due by end of final exam time



Course Goals

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. This course will approach document design as a rhetorical practice and consider the idea of a “document” broadly as a container for meaning in a variety of media, including print and online and also in material and cultural artifacts. To achieve this view of document design, we will read a variety of scholarship, including work on visual rhetoric, visual perception, technical communication, and cultural studies. Students will study real-world scenarios and users and produce documents to meet those user's needs. As such, this course will entail both hands-on and analytic work.

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

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Required Texts and Technologies

Miles A. Kimball and Ann R. Hawkins: Document design: A guide for technical communicators

Document Design companion website

Robin Williams: The non-designer's design book

Numerous research articles

Access to a computer

MS Office Suite or Open Office

A Prezi education account

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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.

Rhetorical Analysis (10): In this assignment you will analyze the design of a document or website to determine the effectiveness of the document for its intended users. Your deliverable should be a 1000-1500 word memo in which you rhetorically analyze your document in terms of audience, purpose, and context. Consider how the document attempts to persuade the reader in terms of ethos, pathos, and logos, how the document is intended to function (and if it does so effectively), and the document's individual design elements. Be sure to provide specific evidence from both the document and relevant literature, provide at least one visual to illustrate your claim(s), and cite references in APA format.

Instructional Poster (15): In this assignment you will design and present a single-page document designed to guide an audience through a task. You will design at least 2 versions during the course of the assignment. These will be critiqued in class. You will then select one final design and submit it along with a ~1000-1500 word memo giving a detailed description of the design and testing process and a final justification for your design choices. Your discussion should include explanation of how you attempt to rhetorically motivate an audience (logos, ethos, pathos, etc.), and your choices for individual design elements. Be sure to provide specific evidence from both the document and relevant literature and cite references in APA format.

Design Project (35): In this assignment you will work in a group to create a complex design (or series of designs) intended to solve a real-world problem. You will select the problem as a group, and justify a need for a design-based solution in your proposal. This project consists of a series of interrelated assignments:

Mid-term (15): Our midterm exam will cover design principles and theory discussed to this point in the class.

Reading Responses and discussion (15): Five times over the course of the semester you will be required to write a response of approximately 500 words to our course readings. You may focus on a specific question, or consider the readings as a whole. These responses are to be posted to our Discussion Board at least 2 hours prior to class. These five posts are worth 3 points apiece (15% of your final grade) so should be thoughtful, analytical, and should synthesize citations from the readings with your own insights. Please cite information appropriately (preferably in APA format).

Tutorial submissions and Quizzes (10): At various points in this class you sill submit work designed for tutorial sessions. We will also have two quizzes.

BONUS POINTS: Found Document Presentations (4): Once during the semester you may choose to present to the class documents (or photos/copies of documents) you have encountered in your day-to-day life that you believe illustrate key points from readings or class discussion. You will present the document along with a brief (~3 minute) presentation about the document and what you found significant. For full points you must clearly and coherently articulate theories and principles specific to the document you bring to discuss, effectively present the relevant aspects of your found-design, and, in some way, help to educate us on design possibilities. These presentations will be scheduled between Labor Day and Thanksgiving Break. You must schedule at least one class period in advance, and no opportunities for post-Thanksgiving presentations will be given. Only one person may present per day--the sign-up sheet is on my office door.

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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.

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.

How to Succeed in this Course

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Attendance and Tardiness Policy

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.

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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


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.