Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Good Document Design

Question: What is a good document?

As what I have learnt so far in this course, a good document comprise of a good design with good content which is suitable for certain occasions.

Document design refers to the physical appearance of a document. (Reep, 2006)

Physical appearance is important therefore the slides as presented by my group has certain elements that will attract audience attention such as images, coloured background and different font sizes. Rothman (2005) stated in his article that a good technical writing should explain further details and follow according to chronology. This can be implied to one of the slides as shown below as it is stated what are the sub topics going to be discussed however, it is not in detailed. Too much words on the slide is not suitable as it is more of a guideline to a discussion.

According to Reep (2006), the principles for a good document design would be balance, proportion, sequence and consistency. As shown on the slide below, there are lines or sentences all in line to bullet points which makes it look well arranged and balanced. However, it can be improved with the amount of words used in every line.

Putnis, P & Petelin, R (1996) cited Williams (1993) in their article that visuals are one way to describe and to provide a full understanding to an explanation. However, Kress and van Leeuwen (2006) suggest that image itself is is a semiotic analysis which means each individual has different point of view therefore in the slide, we have included words/caption with the image in order to prevent misinterpretation.

To add up, Shriver (1997) states that images with text creates a strong message to be conveyed which helps strengthen the text itself with the presence of images. Overall, the slides presented has a balance of text and images however there are some slides which only have images without caption or text. That should be fixed with at least a caption to explain the image shown. These few flaws should be fixed in order to create a better document for audiences to understand better.


Kress, G. & van Leeuwen, T 2006,
Reading images. Chapter 1: The semiotic landscape: language and visual communication.

Putnis, P & Petelin, R 1996, ‘Writing to communicate’, in Professional communication: principles and applications, Prentice Hall, Sydney, pp. 223-263

Reep, DC 2006, 'Document Design', in Technical Writing, 6th edn, Pearson, New York, pp.133-172.

Rothman, S 2005, What makes good scientific technical writing?, viewed 2 September 2009,

Shriver, K.A 1997, 'The interplay of words and pictures', Dynamics in document design: creating texts for readers, p. 361-441, Wiley Computer Pub, New York.


The purpose of this weblog is to discuss on document design and what makes a good document. To look more in depth of this topic, I am going to propose on ways to improvise my group presentation slides in terms of writing and layout after doing some studies on some academic readings. The target audience of this blog would be students of tertiary level, people involved in mass communications and document designers.