How To Design Student Publications


Most of the writing organizations on this site made a conscious decision early on to produce student books of professional quality. This decision was made because we feel that to best honor the student work it must be readable and accessible to as wide an audience as possible. To achieve this, we need to present that work in a clean, professional way. Our student books should look just as professional as any book written by any adult.

So find a designer. Find many designers. In any city there are thousands of professional designers who might be happy to help, either pro bono or for a small fee. Graphic designers are a specialized group of humans who have in most cases spent years or decades honing their craft. They have skills that you can’t learn overnight. So reach out to these professionals.

If you have no design experience, don’t try to design a book yourself. You wouldn’t do your own plumbing or electrical wiring, so respect the graphic design profession and go to a pro for your books. This will ensure that the publications look as good as they should.

Some related notes:

- You will notice that most of the books created by most of these organizations feature adult-made covers. That is, student artwork is rarely featured on our covers. This is a conscious decision, albeit a tough one. But it goes to the same idea articulated above, which is that we’re trying to make these books appealing to a wide audience and to honor the student writing by making the book look professional. These books should look like they belong next to any other adult-written book. In most cases, featuring student artwork on the covers sends a different signal. Again, this is a tough decision, but one we have arrived at after much consideration. You really want the focus to be on the words inside the book.

- You will need a lot of designers. Designing a book takes time, and a given designer might only be able to take on one project in a given year. So having a small stable of volunteer designers is key.

- But the beauty is that these designers can work at home, or at their offices, and this makes their volunteering far easier. You provide the student writing, they will take it from there.

- Such a small detail, but make sure your book is readable. About half of the time, with your first publication, the type will be too small. This is a surprisingly frequent issue. Make sure the type is big enough to read. Start with 11-point type. Anything smaller than that is probably too small!