CD225 Introduction to Digital Layout Design (SEC103/Mon)

Course Information


  • Prerequisite(s): CD224
  • Time: TUESDAYS 9:10 am - 12 pm
  • Classroom: FELDMAN CENTER 315
  • Term: Fall 2016
  • Instructor: Christie Shin
  • Email:
  • Office: D317
  • Phone: 212-217-5651
  • Office Hours: Mon 3-5, Tue 2-3, Wed 3-4
  • Class Website:

Course Description

This course is an overview of InDesign and its use in the industry. The primary goal is for students to learn fundamental principles of layout design using InDesign. The lecture and demonstration cover major features and functions related to typography and editorial design in InDesign. The subject continues with the understanding of different kinds of textual content, hierarchy in content, page elements, consistency, and grid systems. This class also covers working with imagery, alternate layouts, and proper file preparation for various media.

Student Learning Outcomes:

    Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:
  1. understand the principles and process of layout design
  2. understand typography principles for content-heavy layout design
  3. demonstrate an intermediate level of proficiency in digital layout programs
  4. apply fundamental visual design and typography principles to create layout design
  5. analyze and evaluate digital layout design elements such as typography, grid, image integration, hierarchy...etc.
  6. develop design concepts and create digital layout designs


  • Project 1: Event Calendar (10%)
  • Project 2: A multi-page glossary (20%)
  • Project 3: Table of content (5%)
  • Project 4: A City Guide (40%: major project)

Unit/Area of Study:


Core concepts:
Grid system, page layout, typography, hierarchy of content, text formatting and styles, design intent (screen-based vs. print-based)

Week 1-3 (3 lectures / 6 studio hours)

Deck presentation (screen-based) – publishing online*
Project research deck:
Research deck includes the creative brief, style board, typeface research, initial layout design (project 1: minimum 3 options)

Project 1 : Event Calendar

Design an event calendar that covers a week’s schedule of events at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music). Students will learn how to organize and communicate different kinds of information, and design it consistently in a structure. The project will start with research of typeface*. The focus is to enhance the knowledge of typography and its practical application in the grid system. No photographs. Simple illustrations and graphical elements can be implemented. Textual content will be provided.

*A typeface is a family of fonts (very often by the same designer). Within a typeface there will be fonts of varying weights or other variations. e.g., light, bold, semi-bold, condensed, italic, etc. Each such variation is a different font.

Event calendar at BAM*

*BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) is a multi-arts center located in Brooklyn, New York. For more than 150 years, BAM has been the home for adventurous artists, audiences, and ideas—engaging both global and local communities. With world-renowned programming in theater, dance, music, opera, film, and much more, BAM showcases the work of emerging artists and innovative modern masters.

Project Specifications:
· Dimension: 11” x 17” (the calendar can be one large poster or a paired poster)
· Number of pages: 1 to 2 pages
· No photographs. Illustration only if necessary
· Color: Open

Duration of the project:
2 weeks

Research & inspiration: Pinterest/evantCal


Core concepts: Grid system, page layout and elements, typography, text formatting and styles

Week 4-7 (4 lectures / 8 studio hours, midterm)

Project 2: A multi-page glossary

Design a cover page and multi-page spreads. Students will explore layouts with columns and rows in grids. The focus is on typography and page layout. Students will develop a design through effective ways of working with paragraphs and character styles. No photographs. Simple illustrations and graphical elements can be implemented. Textual content will be provided.

Typography and design glossary

Project Specifications:
· Dimensions: Open. Minimum size: Letter-half (5.5” x 8.5”)
· Number of pages: 8 to 12 pages
· No photographs. Illustration only if necessary
· Color: Open

Duration of the project:
3 weeks

Midterm will be given during week 7


Core concepts: Editorial design elements, content comprehension, visual hierarchy, and communication, grid system, typography, working with text and imagery, working with master pages.

Week 9-15 (6 lectures / 12 studio hours, final presentation)

Project 3: Table of contents (single, spread, multipage)

Design a TOC for a periodical. Students will learn and set the hierarchy of content in their design for better communication. The focus is to deliver the information in the most effective way, and create a better wayfinding* experience. Textual content will be provided.

*Wayfinding refers to information systems that guide people through a physical environment and enhance their understanding and experience of the space.

TOC in a periodical.

Project Specifications:
· Dimensions: 8” x 10”
· Number of pages: single or multi-page spread
· Images: Open
· Color: Open

Duration of the project:
2 weeks

Research & inspiration: Pinterest/toc

Project 4: A City Guide (major project)

Design a city guide, including a cover, table of contents, introduction, and main content pages. The focus is on layout design and visual hierarchy in order to create effective communication. Put emphasis on the typographical detail, consistency, and editorial design elements on the page. Students will continue to develop a design using a grid system, working with paragraph and character styles, and exploring imagery styles and other visual systems such as maps.
The basic textual content will be provided. However, students are encouraged to find their own resources (photographs, other visual elements, related information, etc.) according to their creative design solution.

A city guide of places, restaurants, or events

Project Specifications:
· Dimensions: Open
· Number of pages: Minimum 8 pages
· Binding model: Perfect binding

Mandatory units:
1. Front Cover
2. Introduction & Table of Contents
3. Neighborhood Walk: Overview page and 9 featured places
4. In Depth (specially highlighted section)
5. Distinctly New York (specially highlighted section)
6. Best of (specially highlighted section)

Duration of the project:
4 weeks


  1. 75% Projects
  2. 15% Midterm (InDesign Proficiency Test)
  3. 10% Class participation, homework, binder organization, and attendance

Department Policies

Attendance is not optional. If you are going to miss a class, you must contact the instructor via telephone or email ASAP. If a class is missed, it is your responsibility to get information regarding missed assignments and lectures from one of you classmates. Two tardy marks equal one absence, and three absences may result in failure of the class.

  1. Students are required to attend all classes, be on time, and remain for the entire class.
  2. Students who are absent for 3 classes will receive a grade of "F."
  3. Student who arrives 10 minutes after the start of the class will be considered late
  4. 2 late occurrences = one absence
  5. A student who arrives over 1 hour late or not returning from the break will be consider absent from the class
  6. An excused absence is still considered an absence


In order to stay ahead of the rapid developments of technology, this course will not require any paper-based publication. Instead, a list of relevant online resources will be assigned for reading and learning each semester. The following is a list of initial recommendations.

Resource Websites

- W3 schools


• Adobe TV:

Weekly Outline

Week 1

1. Introduction of class, syllabus, projects

2. Lecture/Demonstration
- Font Book (font management utility)
- FIT Type library, Typekit, and google fonts
- InDesign as a layout program and object-based program
- InDesign workspace, tools, and panels
- Document set up (single/multi pages, spread)
- Managing pages
- Placing contents on pages

3. In-class workshop
- Deck presentation (ex1) – publishing online*
- Publish online from InDesign
- Web dashboard

4. Next week
- Project research deck
  10+ slides pdf - publish online & share the URL by tomorrow
  InDesign document name: CD225_Sec_lastname
- Project 1: 1st draft in InDesign
  Project 1 : Event Calendar | BAM website

5. Review type projects

  • ------ Labor day(9/5)------

Week 2

P1 WK1
1. Lecture/Demonstration
- Grid system basic: columns and rows
- Margins & Columns
- Text formatting and create styles I
- Apply and edit styles
- Package InDesign file

2. In-class workshop
- Single page: Bee keeping (ex2)
- Single page: Positive thinking (ex3)
- Project 1 progress review

Week 3

P1 WK2
1. Lecture/Demonstration
- Page elements
- Content hierarchy & communication
- Grids & page layouts
- Text formatting and create styles II

2. In-class workshop
- Project 1 progress review

Week 4

1. Lecture
- Introduction to Project 2 : A multi-page glossary

2. In-class workshop
- Project 2 brainstorming

3. Next class
- Design direction deck (5+ pdf): typeface search, inspirational editorial design layouts, initial design sketches
- Project 2: 1st draft in InDesign

  • ------ Rosh Hashanah(10/3 – 4)------

Week 5

P2 WK1
1. Lecture/Demonstration
- Paragraph styles
- Creating new swatches
- Text frame options
- Inset space
- Object styles

2. In-class workshop
- Single page: Recipe (ex4)
- Project 2 progress review

Week 6

P2 WK2
1. Lecture/Demonstration
- Document set up (custom page size)
- Master page elements
- Textwrap
- Print booklet / 2-up Saddle Stitch
- Midterm review

2. In-class workshop
- Multi pages: Type book (ex7 - start it in class and finish it up as a homework)
- Project 2 progress review

3. Next class
- Completed Type book and bring the mock-up

Week 7

1. In-class workshop
- Project 2 progress review

Week 8

1. Lecture
- Introduction to Project 3 : Table of contents (single, spread, multipage)

2. Next class
- Project 3: 1st draft in InDesign

Week 9

P3 WK1
1. Lecture/Demonstration
- Typographical Components
- Hierarchy on page
- Wayfinding experience
- Organizing content for a better navigating experience

2. In-class workshop
- Project 3 progress review

Week 10

1. Lecture/Demonstration
- Introduction to Project 4: A City Guide (major project)

2. In-class workshop
- Project 3 brainstorming
- Paper prototyping
- Content and structure analysis

3. Next class
- Design direction pdf deck (minimum 3 slides): typeface search, mood board with inspirational motifs, thumbnail sketches
- Bring the completed paper prototype
- Project 4: Content assessment – text placement (ALL) and distribution in InDesign

Week 11

P4 WK1
1. Lecture/Demonstration
- Typography: Indents & paragraph spaces (ex9)

2. In-class workshop
- Project 4 progress review

3. Next class
- Project 4: 1st draft in InDesign
- Focus on the following section; Overview and Neighborhood Walk

  • ------ Thanksgiving(11/24–27)------

Week 12

P4 WK2
1. Lecture/Demonstration
- Typography: alignment (vertical, horizontal, combining alignment) (ex10)
- Grids and page layouts: Spanning and splitting columns (ex11)

2. In-class workshop
- Project 4 progress review

3. Next class
- Focus on the following section; In Depth, Distinctly New York, and Best of

Week 13

P4 WK3
1. In-class workshop
- Project 4 progress review

2. Next class
- Complete sections

Week 14

P4 WK4
1. In-class workshop
- Project 4 progress final review

Week 15


Final Words

Keep and backup all the exercises and projects that you have done through out the semester! You must submit all your projects for the final grade no later than the last day of class (Week 15)