Publication design is definitely one of the most rewarding classes you’ll take at Syracuse so you’ve already made a great decision if you have the fortune of reading this! The skills you are going to learn in this course are super useful for your future, regardless of if you are considering graphic design as a career or not. Here are some things that I believe will help you to get the most out of your experience:


Design takes time and thought and is often a process of trial and error. You can’t make effective designs if you wait until the last minute! This is definitely easier said than done, but trust me, you don’t want to be up until 3am the night before class trying to design 4 pages. Not fun! This is a chance to practice some self-discipline and it will help you produce the best designs possible.


Professor Strong is an invaluable resource and a great person too! In-class crits are really helpful but going to office hours will provide additional insight that can help take your designs to the next level. Don’t be shy and make sure to ask questions about the things you are uncertain about. Odds are your first designs aren’t going to be great, and critique is there to help you, not to hurt you. Take in everything you hear and apply it, but don’t be afraid to put your own twist on critique rather than interpreting it verbatim. It’s important to find the balance of listening to others and trusting your own design instincts.


While in-class crits and office hours will help better your work, it’s important to do research on your own time to ensure that your design eye improves. Refer to your field notes’ publication but also to websites like Pinterest, Designspiration, and Behance. Even stuff you see on Instagram can serve as a reference for you. Looking at examples is a great way to find inspiration for your own work and to understand more about what you like. Emulate the things you like, but don’t copy!


  1. The importance of a grid. Having a solid grid established makes designing a magazine, or anything for that matter, much easier.
  2. Story selection is key. The stories inform the design so it’s important to know/understand the story before beginning the visual interpretation of it.
  3. Type design is extremely important. When so much of a publication is text, it’s essential to have that text easily readable and visually appealing. You have to think about the leading, tracking, justification, and type design and how they all come together to create a visually appealing piece of copy.