on 22 August 1997
Great definition of the emerging field of document design, good history of the influences coming from consumerism, academia, technical writing, graphic design. Fantasic timeline of document design, 1900-1995. Rich case studies of the way documents engage readers' thinking and feeling, leading to a new way to link usability testing with your next document design. Fascinating summaries of research on typography, space, and the interplay of words and pictures.
Pluses: here's a researcher who has actually looked at real documents and real users. How refreshing! Also, she has written a usable book, one that follows her own recommendations-- another amazing feat! Practitioners and scholars alike will find this book easy to understand, wide in scope, and deep in implication.
This thoughtful book makes Wurman's Information Architects look like a fancy poster, and Mok's Designing Business look like a casual first-person narrative. Don't miss it.
on 29 October 1997
Blew me away! Now, all we need is _Dynamics for Dummies_ because I can't get others to crack open the 600 page binding. This is the definitive book on document design, and covers the harder task of demonstrating that a document is successfully designed. One of the best highly technical books I've ever read. Covers history, modern practice, theory, links to other fields, etc. for lots of writing and communication issues. Slightly politically biased, which is one of the risks of a subjective writing style.
on 1 February 1999
As a graduate student in technical communication, I've been required to use this book as a course text. I can assure you few students referred to it regularly.
As a professional tech writer, I still keep it on the shelf. For a book on document design, this does not appear to be the best example. If you want to scan for the salient points, this book is not for you. The 600 pages are very crowded and, though there is lots of good information in it, you have to do some digging. I wouldn't use this book as my only resource on the subject. If you add this one to your library, consider including books by Roger C. Parker and Robin Williams to complement to this volume.