Re: Who's Job is it to Layout a Book?

Subject: Re: Who's Job is it to Layout a Book?
From: "Brierley, Sean" <Brierley -at- QUODATA -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 15 Jul 1999 14:14:58 -0400


The "you are a writer" argument is bogus. Indeed, because you are the writer
you have experience in matters of layout design. The argument, if there is
one, should center around layout issues, like "a four-inch column is more
readable because xyz, and "white space is good because it gives the eye a
break," and "ledger is just too big a format for someone using our software
to put on the desk next to their PC," "a sans-serif font works better for
this application because . . .," etc.

However, should there even be an argument. If your employer says "you are
the writer, our job description limits your role to typing org charts and
prettying up the words you are given," you are pretty much stuck. Can you
work with the marketeers to modify the book design, behind the scenes, in a
non-adversarial fashion (obviously, the adversarial approach seems not to be

You could challenge the graphic artists background in page-layout and book
design, but be prepared to sell your own training, education, and experience
in that area (and cite sources). A tech writer I once knew (I still know him
but he's moved on to marketing management) recommended using physical
threats to persuade someone of the path to enlightenment. "At the very
least, it makes them stop and think," he said (big guy).

However, I recommend making a reasoned approach to sell your skills and,
after that fails, bow to the gods of marketing and do the job as it is

All the best.

sean -at- quodata -dot- com

>>>-----Original Message-----
>>>From: David Hickey [mailto:DHICKEY -at- ALIS -dot- COM]

>>>Out in the real world (any place where I'm not, it seems),
>>>who's job is it
>>>to design the layout of the documentation?

>>>CONTEXT: I've just had my wings clipped at my new client to
>>>reformat their
>>>books in a layout that, in my professional opinion, would be
>>>better. One of
>>>the arguments I was given was "You are a writer, so focus on
>>>the writing.
>>>Layout, fonts, font styles, and the like are a questions of
>>>graphics and are
>>>to be handled by the Graphics department. You are not a
>>>Graphic Artist."

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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