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Course Description

This course covers the primary concepts of layout and design for basic publications common to most organizations. Students will study the techniques of writing, editing, and designing documents with images and text. By acquiring a working knowledge of the fundamentals of layout and design, students will also be able to experiment with more complex formats.

Prerequisites: COM 221, COM 222, or an equivalent professional writing course. The course does not provide comprehensive instruction on software applications. Students are expected to have basic computing skills.

Texts & Technology

Required text: Lupton, Ellen. Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students. 2nd ed. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2010. Other texts are available online or will be provided.

Recommended text (not required): Krause, Jim. Design Basics Index. Cincinnati: How Design Books, 2004

Required technologies: MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, image editing software (download for free), a digital camera (can be borrowed from Media Services). Software such as InDesign, Photoshop, or Illustrator, is helpful but not required.

Supplies & Expenses: Portfolio production, color printing, foam board, project supplies – Estimate $25-$45 total


Upon successful completion of the course, you’ll be able to:

  • Master course material focused on the principles of visual design applying to print and electronic publications, including unity, emphasis, balance, line, shape, value, color, and texture.
  • Understand how to analyze existing graphical artifacts and design new projects, with an emphasis on ideas in the fields of science and technology.
  • Learn about special areas of study, including ethics, typography, semiotics, and layout.
  • Engage in creating professional digital and print media projects, particularly for professional fields in science and technology.
  • Deliver print and digital projects that reflect an understanding of client/business needs and the fundamentals of visual design.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, you’ll be able to:

  • Define common terminology in the professional field of visual design
  • Identify distinctive qualities and characteristics of graphical design both in electronic and print media
  • Design and create basic print and electronic documents in a professional environment, with a focus on field in science and technology
  • Construct effective written documents for technical and non-technical audiences
  • Communicate ideas in non-written form, such as through oral presentations and visual media
  • Recognize the importance of ethical responsibility both professionally and socially
  • Use technology to organize and manipulate information to communicate ideas and concepts
  • Demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the values communicated through the humanities
  • Recognize the complexity of human experience from a variety of perspectives, for example, cultural, aesthetic, social, technological, scientific, psychological, philosophical, and historical

Course Policies


  • This class requires your active participation. Four absences will affect your professionalism grade. If you anticipate four or more absences due to athletics or other university activities, notify me by email at the beginning of the semester so that we can make arrangements.
  • Students who have missed five classes will fail the course.
  • All absences are considered equal. You may be sick or otherwise unable to attend class without documentation. There is no distinction between “excused” or “unexcused.” Therefore, it’s unnecessary to provide medical excuses or documentation of death/injury when you’re absent. It is assumed that you would only miss class for good reason.
  • You’re considered absent if you’re over 15 minutes late.
  • If you are absent from class, you must still submit assignments when they are due to receive credit.

Technologies in the Classroom

Phones, iPads, iPods, laptops, or other personal technologies in the classroom may only be used when instructed for class activities.

Submitting Work/Late Work

  • All work must be typed.
  • Assignments are not accepted by email.
  • Work must be submitted on time. Late work is poor practice in the workplace, a burden on both the student and instructor, and unfair to other students. Therefore, for the most part, no late work is accepted. If you have exceptional circumstances, please discuss them with me well before the assignment due date.

Academic Integrity

Violations include fraud and plagiarism. Incidents will be reported to the HU/SS department chair, and may be reported to the Dean of Students for additional action, including suspension or dismissal from the university. Sanctions for academic integrity violations may include failing the assignment or course.

  • Fraud includes submitting substantially similar assignments to fulfill a requirement in more than one course without permission.
  • Plagiarizing means to steal or pass off someone else’s words, images, or ideas as one’s own. You may submit some work to SafeAssign.

Grades and Coursework

General grading criteria is as follows:

A 100 – 90%: An A-project is one that might lead to a promotion in the workplace. It reflects the author’s careful consideration of audience and purpose. It demonstrates strict adherence to the assignment instructions. It is complete, presented in an appropriate and engaging style, arranged logically, memorable, and visually appealing. It is visually cohesive and balanced. It introduces and credits sources properly. It avoids visual or textual clichés. It contains no superfluous material – every element has a purpose. It reflects a relatively sophisticated assimilation of class discussions and readings. Text contains few mechanical errors and no run-on sentences or fragments.

B 89 – 80%: A B-project satisfies most or all of the requirements but may contain a small number of minor errors that can be easily corrected. It would be considered acceptable in the workplace. It too is professional and reflects consideration of audience and purpose. It may contain some gratuitous visual or textual elements but still conveys a unified message overall. It reflects assimilation of class discussion and readings.

C 79 – 70%: A C-project is competent, though it would possibly be returned for revision in the workplace. It is generally average in terms of the major criteria listed above. It may have some mechanical errors.

D 69 – 60%: D work is weak. It would probably get the writer into a bad situation in the workplace. It falls below average in terms of one or more of the major criteria. It would be returned for extensive revision in the workplace.

F 59% or below: F work fails to adequately meet the criteria of the assignment, either in terms of the project parameters or quality of work. A consistent pattern of this level of production would probably get a person reprimanded or fired in the workplace.

Your final grade will consist of the following activities. Any activity not given a specific point value counts toward your professionalism grade. Click on the links for detailed instructions.

Five blog entries. Post five text/image entries to your blog. Worth 20 points each. There are six blog opportunities. You can skip one, do six and drop your lowest grade, or do all for extra credit. Worth 100 points.

Typographic self-portrait project. Design a self-portrait using only typographic letterforms, and submit mounted on foam board with a short report. Worth 100 points.

Presentation with visual aids. Prepare an oral presentation with visual aids (digital and document/object) based on an approved topic that includes display of quantitative information. Worth 100 points.

Design portfolio. Create a design portfolio that consists of a digital or print collection (your choice) of your work this semester, including a professional biography, an introduction to each piece, and other relevant material. Worth 100 points.

Professionalism. Participate in class discussions and activities; read and respond to other student blogs; demonstrate understanding of the readings; be on time and prepared for class; have required texts, technologies, and materials in class; avoid excessive absences. Worth 100 points.

There are 500 total possible points in the course:

  • A = 500-450
  • B = 449-400
  • C = 399-350
  • D = 349-300
  • F = 299-0