About Publication Design
Is Print Dead? Hardly. Print has just moved over on the couch to make room for a newcomer in the world of communication: the internet. But just as radio did not die when TV arrived, these siblings will each continue to flourish in this growing family of communications media. They will just need to learn more about sharing and working together!
The internet is great; it allows instantaneous publication and has a worldwide reach. BUT, it can be chaotic, is often incomplete, its content is often not subject to any sort of respected mechanism of editorial review, and perhaps its biggest challenge is its ephemeral nature. How long will a digital link be maintained? Who is paying to keep something stored on a server, and might they just suddenly allow this particular webpage to disappear? Will the machine we use five years from now be able to access the message we communicate today?
“The printed word endures,” I tell my classes of undergraduates studying the history of the book, printing, and typography. My statement is a riff on a thought recorded by Horace in his Odes of 23 BC, and once cited by my friend, the book designer Warren Chappell. Horace’s memorable comment pointed out the enduring nature of the written word, how writing is so often more solid and lasting than any physical monument. A publication, so easily printed in large editions with digital technology, can be accessed by anyone who picks it up ten, fifty, one hundred years from its first appearance. No device, software, or electrical outlet required. Hardly any effort required in its preservation, certainly nothing like the money we spend keeping the servers spinning.
Is Reading a Page Different than Scanning the Screen?
“On-screen texts are . . . skimmed and filleted, cherry-picked for half-grasped truths. By doing this we risk losing the ‘associative dimension’ to reading, those precious moments when you venture beyond the words of a text and glimpse new intellectual horizons.” This comment by PD Smith reviewing Maryanne Wolf’s Proust and the Squid, points up the different way we read when we read a printed page. It turns out we actually engage different parts of the brain when our conscious interaction with a text is not moderated by the software of an “intelligent” device. This has a powerful impact on what we learn and what we think about while reading. It influences the way we connect ideas and create new ones. And it affects how we remember.
Why Use a Publication Designer?
Publication designers understand the subconscious power of visual communication. They understand how scale and color, shape and form contribute to creating a sense of hierarchy on a page. They know how to use these and other design factors to help reinforce the message of the text. These skills are of critical value to the communicator hoping to master efficiency and effectiveness on a printed page.