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Publication Design

Course Details

Course Number
MCOM 4423
Section Number
MCOM 4423
Fall 2011
Fain Fine Arts Center
Classroom Number
Days & Times

MWF 12:00 - 12:50

Dr. Mitzi Lewis (view Profile)

Course Attachments


The Non-Designer’s Design Book
The Non-Designer’s Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice by Robin Williams (3rd edition)
Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you should be able to:


  • Understand, identify, and apply basic publication design principles
  • Understand and use basic publication design terminology
  • Comprehend the basic design process
  • Identify basic problem-solving requirements and client objectives
  • Appreciate the role of your creativity in solving design problems
  • Develop your own visual esthetic and style
  • Understand the importance of “detail” in publication design
  • Combine type and image in effective page layouts
  • Evaluate publications with a critical eye for design
  • Demonstrate basic proficiency in Adobe InDesign to create publications
Course Expectations


Required Materials — Physical and Intellectual

  • Required text:   The Non-Designer’s Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice by Robin Williams (3rd edition)
  • Recommended: Before and After Page Design by John McWade and Adobe InDesign CS3: The Professional Portfolio by Against the Clock, Inc.
  • USB flash drive
  • Internet access (we will be using Blackboard for this class)
  • Sketchbook or 3-ring binder
  • Persistence, patience, optimism, and an active mind: Most of our work during the semester will take place in the computer lab. This room is equipped with 21 computers, a flatbed scanner, and several printers. The lab was set up as a place for creating complex digital projects and performing online operations. But computers are fairly elaborate machines, which means that there are many ways in which they can break down. In this course, we will be placing heavy demands on the lab’s hardware and software—as well as on our network capabilities—so be prepared for many strange and wondrous things. We will be discussing basic trouble-shooting techniques in class as issues arise. In many cases, however, you will need to be your own technological problem-solver—identifying problems and figuring out ways they can temporarily or permanently be solved. Techno-whining will not be tolerated.
Grading Standards


Final grades will be based on class participation and attendance, projects, and homework and quizzes. As this is a project-based class, there will not be any mid-term or final exams. You will bring an increased level of knowledge and skills to each successive project, so your final project will, in essence, be a demonstration of what you have learned during the course of the semester.


Class participation and attendance (also called professionalism): 25%

Projects: 50% 

Homework and Quizzes: 25%



Projects are evaluated not only on the final product, but also on the quantity and quality of creative exploration invested during the entire design process. 


Project Grading Rubric

A (100 – 90 percent of project value): Excellent – Professional Quality Work

Well-crafted assignments that exhibit extraordinary creativity along with strong conceptual, typographic, visual, and layout solutions will be awarded this grade. All assignment requirements must be met and exceeded.

B (89 – 80 percent of project value): Good – Above Average Quality Work

Work that is above average in craft, conceptual development, typographic, visual, and layout solution will be awarded this grade. All assignment requirements must be met and exceeded.


C (79 – 70 percent of project value): Average – Acceptable Quality Work

Work that fulfills the basic problem requirements, but lacks strong conceptual or design development will be awarded this grade. Poor craft or sloppy presentation of assigned project components is often what contributes significantly to this grade. All assignment requirements must be met.


D (69 – 60 percent of project value): Poor – Un-Publishable Work

Work that does not fulfill all the assignment requirements, is of extremely poor conceptual, visual, or craft quality will earn this grade.


F (59 percent of project value or less): Unacceptable

Work not handed in on time, does not fulfill all assignment requirements, and or is of general poor quality will earn this grade.


Completion of all projects is required to pass this class.


Homework and Quizzes

Homework will be assigned periodically throughout the semester to reinforce ideas discussed in class. There will be announced quizzes on course material. We will have unannounced quizzes only if attendance is poor or if I sense that you are not keeping up with your assignments. If we have unannounced quizzes, they will be given at the beginning of class. If you are late, you will receive a score of zero unless your late arrival is excused.


Please note that the number of quizzes and assignments is not set in stone.  This means that it is impossible at the outset of the semester to determine how much each individual quiz or assignment will be worth.


More about Grading

In the professional world, if you can’t show up on time and make your deadlines, you won’t keep your job. Assignments must be completed on time in the format specified. 

Reading assignments are to be completed by the day they are assigned. 

Projects and homework are due at the beginning of class on the due date. 

Each page of each assignment must be clearly labeled with your name, the assignment, the date, the page number and the total number of pages.

Spelling and grammar count, in your assignments and your e-mails. Grades will be reduced for spelling and grammar errors.

If you know you will be absent when an assignment is due, arrange to complete and hand in the assignment early.

You are responsible for keeping all handouts and graded assignments.

If my recorded grade differs from yours, the only way to get your grade changed is to show the grade marked (or the grade sheet I completed) on the assignment.



Critiques are a vital part of learning. You can learn a lot from reviewing the work of others and evaluating their design’s strengths and weaknesses. Critiques also provide the opportunity to put concepts to words, and to help you learn how to speak intelligently and knowledgeably about designs (a necessary skill for survival in the workplace!). We will critique published work and your work. This will provide you with fresh insights and perspectives. Some of the publications we critique will be examples you bring to class, which may include:

Print ads











Computer Usage

You will primarily use Adobe InDesign during this course. Keep in mind, however, that the focus of this course is first and foremost to learn the fundamentals of publication design. InDesign is simply a tool used to support that main goal.

Submission Format Policy

Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.
Late Paper Policy

In the professional world, if you can’t show up on time and make your deadlines, you won’t keep your job. Assignments must be completed on time in the format specified. The only accepted excuses for late work or missed presentations or exams are noted in the attendance policy. No exceptions. Plan ahead.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

Because abundant lecturing tends to be counterproductive for both you and me, I try to include activities that are more interesting than straight lecture, such as discussions, presentations, guest speakers, etc. The success of this format depends on your willingness to actively participate in class discussions and other activities.

Attendance and participation are critical to your success. Another way to describe this is professionalism. Professionalism means that you’re here, ready to engage in new opportunities. You are expected to arrive on time, be prepared, actively participate, and stay for the full class period. If you miss class, you miss the chance to participate in your education and the education of others in class. If you miss class you get a “zero” for that day’s participation.

If you must miss class, please let me know BEFORE the class period that you will miss. You may call my office and leave me a voice mail or you may notify me by e-mail. An absence may be excused at my discretion in accordance with university policy if you provide documentation of the reason for your absence. Plan carefully regarding appointments and/or work schedules to avoid missing class. Any personal emergencies that arise will be dealt with on an individual basis. Do not assume you will be allowed to make up assignments missed during an unexcused absence. . If you MISS CLASS, it is YOUR responsibility to find out what you missed.

Your class participation and attendance grade is made up of (a) your coming to class, (b) your input during class discussions, (c) your completion of in-class assignments. In class assignments will help you immediately apply concepts covered in class. If you miss a class you get a “zero” for that day’s in-class assignments. If you miss more than two classes, or if you are habitually late or leave early, your final grade may be lowered by 1/3 letter grade for each instance beyond two absences. .  Three tardies = one absence.  Five minutes or more late = one tardy. Twenty minutes or more late = one absence. Leaving before class is dismissed = one absence. If you have difficulty with the attendance and participation (professionalism) requirement, you may be dropped from the class.

I reserve the right to determine what, exactly, constitutes an excused absence or when a late arrival is excusable.

Some additional guidelines:

  • You are responsible for all material presented in every class period, whether present or not.
  • If you miss a class period you should obtain the material presented from another classmate. (I will not repeat lecture material that was missed. Handouts are available from my office.)
Other Policies
Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at