Friday Design: Simple Handout Formatting

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has been gentle to you and you have a relaxing weekend ahead. I can hardly believe we are now three weeks into the semester and a week into September. The time really does fly. Today I wanted to share a quick project I was working on that will hopefully provide some inspiration for the next time you need to create a handout.

As I’ve said before, no project is too small for great design and it doesn’t take really any longer to create a great handout than a poorly designed handout, especially when you keep it simple. I was updating a handout I used in a previous term for a colleague and thought I’d share that today with you. Below is the first page of the handout:

image of the first page of a two column handout for evaluating sources

The handout is simple and clear with lots of resources that students can use after the workshop on evaluating information sources. The clarity comes from the consistent, two-column design that separates the title of the source from the URL and short description. This is easily set-up with two guidelines and a couple of textboxes in a program like Publisher or InDesign.

Notice that the left column is right aligned and the right column’s text is left aligned. This set-up is seen often in movie credits and allows for the information to interact with each other in a way that connects the titles with the additional information without being visually overwhelming.

One typeface, in multiple sizes and weights, is used throughout. This also lends to the simplicity of the design, plus it saves time from having to match typefaces. Keep the sizes and weights consistent for titles and body text to again make the handout clear.

Two icons from the same set are used to give some visual interest and these are also aligned to the guidelines, keeping the page’s structure consistent.

In all, a quick, clean, easy-to-reproduce handout for a workshop whose structure can be reused with minimal changes for a variety of handouts.

So, what are the takeaways?

  1. Keep things simple: 1 font, graphics from the same source, easy to align structure/guidelines
  2. Make the information the star of the handout: resources are key here and should be easy to find on the page
  3. Good design is possible with any canvas: handouts are often used, but overlooked canvases for great design. Make your handouts stand out in a good way to show that you care.

Hope that Friday design tip is useful for your next handout project.

Now, a bit of fun, in case you’ve missed the Neil Gaiman and Chris Riddell essay in pictures on why we need libraries, you should go read it now. Really, it is wonderful.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, full of inspiration and delight. I’ll be back with more news and notes soon. Allons-y!