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!

Friday Design Fun: Chosen Collaborations

Happy Friday, dear readers! I apologize for the relative blog silence over the last few weeks. I hope you’ve had a good spring, thus far, and today I want to talk a bit about collaboration and design, how important it is and how wonderful it can be (if done well) or horrible (if done poorly). So let’s talk about collaboration.

I don’t know about you, but I hated group work when I was in school. No matter how good my teachers’ intentions, there was so little individual accountability in the groups that I often (okay, more like 95% of the time) ended up doing most of the work. Others knew I would do the work because I cared about my grade and took advantage of it and even when tasks were assigned, people often didn’t follow through. It left a bad taste in my mouth that has, unfortunately, been reinforced by more than a few committees I’ve been on since becoming a librarian. So you wouldn’t be surprised that sometimes I have issues with so much emphasis being placed on collaboration and group work, without equal discussion about accountability and equity within the group.

All that aside, I love collaboration when I have agency over who I’m collaborating with and for what tasks. I especially find it useful in graphic design work to have someone to bounce ideas off of and to critically go over designs to improve them before they are ready for final printing or launching online. While I’m not a fan of design by committee, I’m a fan of collaboration in design work. The same principles for making design collaborations work are the same for making any collaboration work, in my experience:

  1. Clear communication is key, as is individual accountability. Work out responsibilities and deadlines in the first meeting and check in often.
  2. Brainstorm together, then individually work on designs to bring back and compare and critique. Best thinking work still gets done individually and everyone needs time to have ideas percolate and come together.
  3. Be open and kind with critiques and work together on the edits. Also, give credit to the editors in any process. Too often only the designer gets credit and the editor gets ignored. Editing is hard, important work, too.
  4. Always praise and thank your collaborators publicly when your work together is complete. Everyone likes to be appreciated and it will help the next time you need collaborators.

At my work, I love collaborating with our fabulous web designer, Brooke, who is also a great graphic designer. We’re both deadline oriented (and hit our deadlines) and we’ve worked out good communication so we can get a lot done in a reasonable amount of time. Collaborating also gives us a chance to learn from each other and I think strengthen our own individual design work.

So, even if you’ve been burned in the past by group and committee work, give collaboration in your design work a chance. If you can pick your collaborators and maintain clear communication, you never know what amazing things you can accomplish together (and make your library’s visual communications more beautiful and useful in the process!).

And, if you haven’t changed up your desktop wallpaper yet, check out the lovely ones over at Smashing Magazine.

I hope you have a lovely weekend full of relaxation and rejuvenation. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Design: March News and Notes

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a good week and are looking forward to a lovely weekend. It’s been quiet around here as I’ve had a couple of particularly busy and fatiguing weeks, but I wanted to post some updates and design news so you know I’ve not forgotten about this site (and hopefully you haven’t either).

First, if you are in the East Bay today and have a free hour from 2:30 to 3:30 pm, stop on by the Cal State East Bay Library on our Hayward Campus and you can hear me talk about libraries and graphic design (and answer questions, of course). It should be fun and it would be great to not talk to myself in an empty room!

Second, if you need some inspiration for your designs, or just want to learn something fun, I recommend checking out Daily Infographic.  Even if you’re not creating infographics for your library, it’s a great site to get ideas about layout, writing clean, precise copy, and just learning some new information (and who doesn’t like that?). It’s good to branch out to find new sources of inspiration for our work, whether we are in the middle of designing a brochure or just in the brainstorming stages. I’m looking forward to sharing our new library exhibit with you next week (our web designer has outdone herself with the banners!).

Third, and final, if you haven’t seen The Temple of Knowledge video from StoryCorps, I highly recommend giving it a view. It’s a lovely reminder about the greatness of libraries.

I hope you have a lovely, relaxing, restorative weekend. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!

Friday Design Fun: Icons, Book Talk News, and Inspiration

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you have had a good week and have a fun weekend planned. Today, I have a few resources for icons and inspiration that I want to share, along with news about a book/graphic design talk I’ll be giving in March.

First, who doesn’t like a free, beautifully designed icon set? Better yet, who doesn’t like two? Check out this friendly office icon set over at Smashing Magazine. It looks like a great resource for using for various library handouts and guides. Also, if you use Adobe XD, you can get a free icon set to use there, by following this link and guide provided by Smashing Magazine.

Also speaking of graphic design (of course), I’ll be giving a book talk/graphic design in libraries talk at Cal State East Bay on March 16th at 2:00 pm in the Biella Room of the Library. This is a free talk, so please come is you are able and interested. I’ll be talking a bit about graphic design basics and how they apply to the designs we create in libraries. It should be fun, so I hope to see you there.

Finally, some inspiration, check out this cool water and ink drop calligraphy. It is soothing, inspiring, and pretty darn awesome.

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

Friday Design: ALA Midwinter Book Talk Wrap-Up

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has gone well and you have a lovely weekend planned. I’m back from Denver and finally warming up (so cold there for this Bay Area weather wimp). ALA Midwinter was great–I enjoyed the book buzzes, presentations, and exhibits. And, it was fantastic to meet my acquisitions editor and two people from the marketing team in person. Plus, I got to give a book talk! It was so fun. Thanks to everyone who came to chat with me. Today, I wanted to give a quick wrap-up on my book talk and share a design handout.

If you didn’t make it to ALA Midwinter, and even if you did (but didn’t make it to my talk), you can view it on the ALA Editions & ALA Neal-Schuman Facebook page here.  It was great chatting a bit about graphic design solutions to issues faced by people who attended. We talked about structure, visual movement, and how to make designs look professional. It was a blast.

I passed out a handout, which you can see in the video, and wanted to share it on my blog, too. I wrote about the design process that went into it before and now you can download the completed brochure (PDF available via this link). It gives some basic tips, inspiration, further reading, and design ideas. Plus, hopefully it will entice you to check out my book! 🙂

image of first page of brochure from ALA Midwinter, links to PDF of handout if clicked

Thanks to everyone at ALA Editions for making my book talk such a success! The ALA Store was beautifully laid out for both browsing and for the book talks. Can’t wait to see what book talks happen at upcoming conferences.

That’s it for now. I’m working on catching up with all my work and will be back soon with more news and notes on design in libraries. I wish you a wonderful, relaxing, and rejuvenating weekend. Allons-y!

 

Friday Design: Blind Date with a Book

Happy Friday and Happy February, dear readers! I hope the month is treating you well so far. It is amazing that we are already into the second month of 2018. So let’s have some fun today with blind date with a book!

February brings Valentine’s Day and lots of interesting and fun book display and event tie-ins at libraries. I really love the programming that public librarians produce and love that academic libraries are picking up on some of their fun. My local public library ran a blind date with a book event last year and I really wanted to do one this year as I was recently given collection development duties for our popular reading collection.

If you haven’t heard about blind date with a book before, check out this great post of tips and tricks from the Ontarian Librarian.

Happily, our Access Services Manager was completely cool with the event after we decided to write barcodes on the back of the wrapped books to make check-out easy and Technical Services was kind enough to change some temporary location codes so we could keep track of the titles pulled for the event. Another librarian colleague helped write up some blurbs and then the fun began!

It looked like arts and crafts time at a kindergarten class in my office this week with all the wrapping and lots of writing blurbs. It is a great excuse to practice different lettering styles. Since I didn’t have a lot of time to dedicate to the decoration of the books, I stuck with simply writing our blurbs on the books, but changed up the writing style. We’re also hoping to get students to give us some feedback after they read their book.

And, one of the best parts, for space cramped libraries is that the entire display fits on one book cart (if you’re willing to refill as needed). I’m pretty happy with how it looks and hope our students get a kick out of going on a blind date with a book. I’ll let you know how it went after the event is over.

photograph of book cart with books wrapped for blind date with a book

So just remember, while designing for your library can be serious business, you should have some fun, too.

Also, since it is the beginning of the month, it means time to change up your desktop wallpaper. Check out this month’s fun designs from Smashing Magazine.

Finally, not to be a broken record, but I’m speaking at ALA Midwinter in the ALA Store. It’s the first time ALA is having author’s give book talks in the store. Come see me and stay for the other talks, too. List of all the talks is here with links to the conference scheduler, too.

I’m talking at 11:30 am on Saturday, so stop by to see me talk about graphic design without using a projector! It will be fun, interactive, and you’ll get a nifty handout I designed. Plus, you can buy my book at the ALA store and I can sign it (you know, if you’re into that. If not, that’s cool, too.).

I hope you’ll stop by as I’m super-excited to share some time with you and talk graphic design in libraries.

So that’s it for today. I hope you have a lovely, relaxing, and rejuvenating weekend. I’ll be back soon with thoughts and notes. Allons-y!

 

Friday Design: Handout for Book Talk at ALA Midwinter

Happy Friday, dear readers! Can you believe it is almost the end of January? Where has the time flown? I don’t know about you, but sometimes I’d like a pause button. There’s so many things to do and projects to start that taking a breather (even in January) sounds quite nice. But luckily, there are always fun design projects that might make the hours fly by, but at least in a good way.

Today, I want to share a bit of my design process for creating the handout I’m using for my book talk at ALA Midwinter.

[Shameless plug: If you are going to Midwinter, stop by the ALA Store at 11:30 am on Saturday, Feb. 10, to join my book talk about graphic design for librarians and get your book signed (if you want). Details on the Event Scheduler here. ]

So I talk a lot about planning and process when it comes to graphic design, as do many others. But I find that while we share finished projects, we rarely share the process and planning bits. Today I wanted to share a couple of pages from my planning process for my handout.

First, a bit of context. I’m super-excited that the team at ALA Editions is having me do a short book talk and signing at ALA Midwinter. I love talking about graphic design with my fellow librarians. Plus, who doesn’t like an excuse to design something new? The challenge? I am going to be doing a graphic design talk without a projector! That means I have to get creative in order to show examples of visual communication. Luckily I get to have a handout printed for my talk.

I am a messy planner when I’m working on graphic design projects. I’m sometimes envious of artists who have beautiful sketchbooks and journals that look perfect, even in their rough drafts. I’m not like that. I use scratch paper and a pencil (or whatever else is lying around) and start brainstorming whatever comes to mind first.

Below is the first page I began writing and sketching out what I wanted my talk to be about and ideas for my handout:

photograph of rough draft of handout with examples, tips, and parts of design outlined

You’ll notice it isn’t really pretty and it is very rough. I’m using this page to just get ideas on the page, in no particular order, so I don’t forget anything I want to cover. You’ll notice I have a lot of arrows and some bits are beginning to look like a flowchart. This helps me decide hierarchy, grouping, and order for a handout and presentation. Parts of the writing look better than others because I was pondering how to phrase certain ideas (and I was also using my planning time to sneak in calligraphy practice. It’s all about multitasking.).

But this is super-rough and far from what I’d put in a handout. But I’m getting into what I want to do and by grouping ideas, in my head I’m already thinking about layout and how many columns, rows, etc. I might need to make the handout flow and make sense.

This second photo is of the second page of my drafting, where I was gathering ideas for the presentation, along with more formed ideas for headings/organization of my handout.

draft showing presentation ideas for audience interaction, drawings, headings for handout, and graphic design quotes as well as notes about what to bring.

I write a lot of notes to myself. Here, I’ve written reminders about what to bring with me to the presentation as well as inspirational quotes that may or may not make it into the final handout. The middle section is where I was working on descriptive headings for my handout, again following groupings that I worked out on the first page. And you can see there are also ideas about audience interactions and drawings I could easily do as examples.

What’s this all mean for you when you are working on your next design project?

  • First, don’t worry about about having messy rough drafts when you are sketching out your ideas. They are called rough drafts for a reason.
  • Second, take time to let your ideas germinate in your head and play around with what inspires you and what might inspire your audience.
  • Third, be bold and go out on a limb with what you design. If you aren’t having some fun, you’re not doing it right.
  • Fourth, there is always time to sneak in calligraphy practice. Even if it is simply with a pencil for a modern calligraphy look.

So how did all of this finally work out in my final handout? You’ll just have to come to Midwinter and chat with me to find out. 🙂

I hope you have a lovely weekend full of inspiration, relaxation, and rejuvenation. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Also, hopefully I’ll see some of you in Denver soon! Allons-y!

Friday Design: New Year, New Inspiration

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope you are having a good start to the new year. I can hardly believe we are already a week into the new term, but I’m looking forward to using the new year’s momentum to get a lot of things done. Today, I have a bit of inspiration and thoughts to hopefully help you get into a new year of designing, too.

First, time to refresh your desktop wallpaper, if you haven’t already. Check out the inspiring and cute designs over at Smashing Magazine.  I am partial to the penguin on the rainbow popsicle, which will surprise no one who knows me.

Second, if you need more inspiration (and really, who doesn’t?) check out this talk by Chip Kidd, The Art of First Impressions in Design and Life. Great ideas and practices to apply in your library design work. (Hint: we’re almost always going for clarity rather than mystery in our library designs)

Third, I have a question: what library graphic design projects or topics do you want to know more about? Let me know in comments and I’ll try to work them into posts this year.

Finally, some shameless self-promotion: if you are going to ALA Midwinter in Denver and are working on your schedule, I’d like to suggest that you come by to see me at the ALA Booth on Saturday, February 10th at 11:30 am.  I’ll be giving a brief talk about graphic design in libraries (without a projector! It will be fun!) and signing books (but, you know, only if you want your book signed). Stop by and say hi. Tell your friends. Hope to see you there.

Okay, that’s it for this week. I’m working on some projects that I hope to be sharing with you all soon. Until then, be kind, be creative, and have fun. Allons-y!

Mid-Week Design Inspiration

Hello, dear readers! I was thinking that we all could use a little mid-week pickup and wanted to share some design inspiration and news as we barrel on towards the middle of September. I hope you and your loved ones are safe, you are able to use your time and skills to help where you can, and you have found ways for using your graphic design skills to help others.

In wonderful library news, my dean approved printing of two large welcome banners. I installed them at both our entrances and wanted to share. I’m rather happy with how they turned out.

Banner saying: this is your library, there is no space for hate, here all are welcome. We stand with all who fight for equity, inclusion, and diversity.

In case you missed it, lovely September desktop wallpapers. There is no time like the present to make your desktop look lovely for autumn. I currently have the cutest desktop of all year with cats and foxes–love having a dual-monitor set-up for this (and the productivity, of course).

Also, who doesn’t get inspired by books? (I mean, that’s kind of a silly question for those of us in libraries.) So I wanted to share this lovely (truly!) list of books on type and lettering from The Well-Appointed Desk.  More to add to my “to read” list.

I recently finished reading (and let’s be honest, drooling) over the beautiful work showcased in Infographic Designers’ Sketchbooks. If you haven’t viewed this book yet, I highly recommend it. It is a trove of inspiration for creating beautiful and effective infographics for so many different types of projects. Makes me want to sketch all day and redesign every report we put out for the library.

And finally, although I know we should all be good and eating healthy, sometimes you (okay, I mean “I”) just want a brownie. So I leave you with this amazing recipe from Joy the Baker for Thick S’more Brownies.

I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week. You find time and inspiration to use your design skills to welcome and support everyone at your library. And you even find time to have a brownie or two (I won’t tell if you offer to share with me, too!). I’ll be back soon with more design news and notes. Allons-y!

 

Design Short: Keep Your Fonts Consistent

Happy Friday, dear readers! I hope your week has gone well and you have a lovely weekend planned. Today I want to go over a design short: a quick tip that you can easily apply to your design work at your library. This works no matter what you are creating, but is especially important for signage and work with branding. So what are we talking about? Keeping your fonts (well, technically, your typefaces) consistent.

Earlier this week I was walking around Mendocino and taking photographs of all the lovely business signs. (Yes, I do that because I’m a bit of a type and hand-lettering junkie and you never know where you’ll get inspiration for your next design.) I can across this art gallery which had two signs with its name near the sidewalk.

Here’s the first instance of the part of the business name on the flower box:

photo of panache name on flowerbox

And here’s the second instance of the business name on the sign just to the left of where the flower box is located:

Panache Gallery sign

Now, neither font choice is bad. I quite like both, but they evoke very different feelings and don’t match at all. The font of the flower box looks inspired by uncial (you can also see a similar take on the font on the “Closed” sign near the front door). The font used for “Panache” on the sign is a beautiful, elegant script, but it is definitely not uncial-inspired and neither is the font chosen for the rest of the sign.

So why is this an issue?

Because if you are a business, or an organization, or a library, or really anything that wants to have a brand or visual identity, you need consistency.

One of the easiest ways to be consistent in your visual identity is through the use of the same fonts for all your written material, especially when it comes to your organization’s name.

For this business, because it is a fine arts gallery, I would probably choose to use the elegant script font for the name–wherever the name is placed. The same font should be used for the name on the sign, letterhead, business cards, newspaper ads, exhibition promotional materials. I’d even put it on the flower box. You can imagine that lovely script drawn by hand on the box, highlighted with metallic gold paint to play off the vertical sign and creating a lovely, cohesive look to the front of the gallery’s building.

So what does this have to do with libraries?

Look around at the printed material that your library creates and uses. Look at everything–your letterhead, your website banner, the sign that’s taped up on the wall that everyone’s forgotten about–and check to see if the same font is used on all your materials. Is it?

If your library is like most, there is probably a hodgepodge of fonts used and not a coherent visual identity. Is there a way to fix this? Of course, or we wouldn’t be talking about it.

Create a mini-branding guideline for your typography and stick to it. Easiest way?

Create some templates.

Make a template for signs, for flyers, etc. and stick to using it. You can create these in Word or Publisher, you don’t need InDesign or something fancy. Use what you know people in your library will use. Templates are great for when you don’t have a graphic designer (and really, how many libraries have an in-house graphic designer?). Templates will enable you to create a consistent visual identity and save time once you’ve created the templates. They don’t have to be fancy; they just need to be legible, consistent, and used.

Remember, when it comes to graphic design, and design in general, it’s the little details that matter. Actually, it’s all about the details. So get your typography together and you’ll have a first step to creating a coherent visual identity for your library. Really. It’s a great step and will put you head and shoulders above many other organizations.

I hope this design short provided some inspiration and you have a lovely weekend. I’ll be back soon with more news and notes. Allons-y!