Advice on Publication/Report design - getting started?

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by snowydog, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. snowydog macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2011
    Hi everyone

    I'm on my Android phone here and its not great on the browser so forgive me if there's any typos

    I'm looking advice on getting started with publication/report/policy designing.

    My job involves being contracted to develop and write important government, organisation and other smaller company reports, publications, policies, sports development plans.

    I do a lot of writing however my boss was impressed with how I presented the reports when I first started. I used Microsoft word creatively to make them appealing and easy to read. Since then, I've been the go to girl in the office for any reports to be "spruced up" If u will.

    Last year I got my MacBook Pro and took time out from my job to finish university. I just graduated with a first class hons in sport science. I'll be returning t work in September however over the course of the summer I'd like to learn more about designing reports ... using InDesign. I'm going to download the trial and play around with it.

    Can anyone guide ne in the direction of any good website to learn the basics? ... its not essential for my job or anything but I thought it would be something to keep me occupied over the summer that I enjoy doing and would be beneficial to my job in the long run.

    Also, any designers out there who do similar work ... what's you're protocol on working with clients? In my job, because we write the reports, there's a lot of back and fro with the client about mending paragraphs, sentences, sections etc as well as trivial little things such a placement of an image. My boss would usually have us write the report using a designed template on word that I created, however as u can imagine, it proves t be quite annoying when the client comes back about a dozen times with different changes and so messes up the layout of the design. We decided t use text boxes t overcome this but as u can imagine, thered only so far we can go with this and its proving t be a bit of a hassle for me. We could have many reports on the go with different teams throughout the office but I'm usually left to fix up the design on multiple reports while writing my own ones. And with them there's on average around a dozen changes.

    Would it be best to write the whole report in word, get it finalized completely in terms of the content, and then move on to the design stage. This would be easier on me but my boss is always insistent on showing them how it will look even before cobtent is finalized. What is your protocol? Do clients send u what they what designed in a word document and then tell u the type of design they want etc? Then bk n fro with finishing the design?

    Gosh sorry that's so long lol
  2. murdock25 macrumors member

    Aug 5, 2006
    InDesign is one of those programs that has a high learning curve, but if you stick with it and learn how to use well it will be well worth it.

    I would check out: and view his videocasts.

    As far as the workflow process, you're right. Ideally copy/content should be finalized before you receive it to lay out. But, this is in a perfect world and will rarely happen. I would push to have content at lease pretty close to approved and finalized before you even see it to layout and design around.

    One of the great benefits of using InDesign (as opposed to Word) is how fast and easily you can move design elements around when copy and text, images change, as it will inevitably will change until it's signed off.


    If he really wants to see a design before copy is anywhere near done for you. You can always mock it up. using fonts and colours you have decided on using.

    You would mock up a spread for example, by just using placeholder images or just plain grey boxes where images would be and then have dummy text flow through out and around the images. This way you get a sense of how much copy you need and a what point-size you need it etc. adjust margins.

    Does that make sense?

    Lorem Ipsum is what designers usually use as dummy text
  3. firedept macrumors 603


    Jul 8, 2011
    You will be able to learn InDesign with continued use. Adobe has some good learning tools for this on their site. Generally I will ask my customer to provide me with hard files so I have something to work with to initially create their project for them. Color scheme and fixes can easily be done after the initial layout is done. Easy to move things around in InDesign. You may even want to consider getting the Creative Design Standards Suite to help you even further if you company will cover the cost as you are doing this for them. It will give you several programs to help you really finish your projects professionally. You can export everything to a PDF, (while still retaining the original file for changes), which will then allow you to print out a hard copy of your reports for the customer to proof. They can then make notes of any errors & changes they want to this hard printed copy, then give it back so you can make changes. This will then give you something to both record your time spent on any given project as well lets you track changes. The other thing about PDF proofs is that they can be emailed to a client when only certain pages require changes, changes are small or the client require proofs ASAP. This works well for my clients and myself. Good luck with whatever direction you decide to pursue.
  4. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    Deisgn advice: keep your margins big and your fonts small.

    I prefer space after paragraphs over indenting.

    But if I do indent, I keep the indent to a line's height ... not the half-inch that I see some people do.

    Big, gross indents. Ugh.
  5. MisterMe macrumors G4


    Jul 17, 2002
    This is an Internet fan forum. You need to learn the format and specifications of the reports that your will will require you to write. For some reason, I keep hearing "SGML" in my head over and over again. You can't do that in InDesign.

    That fact that your boss wants you to do this job does not mean that you have the tools to do it. The Government often lets contracts to contractors who have no clue how to do the job that they have been contracted to do. The contractor then subcontracts the job to another firm that does have a clue.

    My advice to you is to get on the phone with people people in the office that receives these jobs. Get the specifications of your deliverables from them.
  6. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    Excellent advice.
  7. snowydog thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2011
    See it's just that something extra that he likes us to do that will win use the work - our tender applications are bright, colourful and designed well enough (by me mostly) to leave an impression and give the client an idea into the type of reports we will produce for them. Most of the reports are published to the stakeholders of the organisation so they will need to be easy on the eye, rather than paragraph after paragraph of text.

    Usually we only subcontract it if the client specifically asks for it, for example, in the terms of reference or whatever.

    My boss hasn't asked specifically for me to go to a course to learn it or anything like that, I just want to learn it myself as a side thing that I can maybe offer as an extra. I did get paid a bit extra to design a few other things for some of the guys in the office, but it's not a requirement for my job, nor has my boss asked me. I'm just genuinely interested in learning how to use it.


    Thanks for the tips and I'll def check out those video casts - I've used the Lorem Ipsum for a mock up of a report before, so I'll need to remember that, you just reminded me :D

    Thanks for the advice - especially with the suggested protocol to take with clients ...

    Yeh I prefer space over indenting too ... thanks again for the advice :)

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