Design Analysis, “The Gregg Reference Manual, Tenth Edition” by Samuel Hatfield
When the book is first looked at, we see a cover design that strives for sophistication. The title, the Gregg Reference Manual, is a bold, ornate, white font on a purple background. Underneath the title and the author’s name, there are small italic letters with a “parchment” background, imitating a handwritten lecture. Over the author’s name and the “parchment”, there is a gloss overlay with the letters GRM in the same font as the title. TENTH EDITION is included above the title, within a marbled burgundy box. The book is spiral-bound, with a extended back cover that forms a flap. This flap is printed with a miniature six-year calendar (2004–2009) and a map of world time zones.
The interior design is entirely simplistic when compared with the cover. There are two colors used, blue and burgundy. All of the text is in blue, and accentual design elements are in burgundy. The text is arranged in rules, in outline format, with each rule having a corresponding number and letter. All headings are in burgundy and obviously separated by text size. When tables are needed in the text to visually organize information, they are shown without any table borders. Most of the rule numbers are within burgundy ovals with white text. There are no reoccurring features. Examples used to demonstrate a rule are in small text, using italics to emphasize selected words and phrases.
MEMO TO: Matthew Baldwin
FROM: Samuel Hatfield
DATE: December 1, 2009
SUBJECT: Gregg Reference Manual Design Requirements
The time is nearly up for the 11^th^ edition of the GRM, and I’ve been asked to review the design on the
10^th^, to try and suggest some things that may make the new book maintain its excellence, and improve
upon that excellence, if we can manage it.
In terms of our accomplishments, I’d say that the 10^th^ has many strong points. It’s easy to read, with few distracting elements, it does something different by having non-black text, it uses an alternative binding to make rule reference easier, and it’s got a sophisticated cover. But as always, there are areas in which to be even better.
To begin with, I always wondered about the spiral binding on the 10^th^. Sure, it makes page flipping a
little bit easier, but it doesn’t work in other important ways. In terms of functionality, the pages are easier to separate from each other when looking up rules, but they are also easier to separate from the book itself. I’ve seen loose pages from GRM, and they reminded me of a cheap spiral notebook that small children use, not a reference manual that business people use.
That is not the image that this book strives for, especially with that sophisticated cover we’ve got on there. The two elements clash, and that needs to be fixed. There are types of binding that can still give us the functionality of a book that is frequently opened and remains opened while still keeping the pages inside the book where they belong, as well as making the GRM more professional looking. We should get someone to research that.
Now for the second part, in regards to color. The interior design is what we need: simple and direct reference material. But there are a few problems here as well. The book only uses two colors, blue and burgundy. The text is blue, and accentual features are burgundy. This is a four-color book that has a feel of being a two-color book. What was the reason for that again? Yes, there aren’t any distracting colors when looking up rules, but if we can afford to do four-color, lets do four-color.
There are three different units in this book, why not color-code them too? If we were to use the color scheme on the 10^th^ cover, one section would be burgundy, one section would be purple, and one section would have that textured parchment design. The text being a dark color other that black is fine with me, and I think it helps with eye strain, but we should use at least three other accentual colors, rather than burgundy by itself.
There is another small issue that deals with color. Why are some of the rule reference numbers in burgundy oval fills and white text while other rules are just burgundy numerals? There never was an explanation for this in the book, at least, where normal people would look. We need to either explain it or get rid of it. And, sometimes the person editing the book won’t notice all of our notes and exception passages at the end until they’ve already made their correction. Can we get that in a different color too?
Another pet peeve I have about the way these rules aren’t encoded at all is how we include the rules “from other authorities” (like rule 527c) but we make no attempt for them to look or be different than our rules. We must separate the advice from other authorities and our advice, lest we confuse the user of the book, and we don’t need to confuse them. We’ve only included those other rules as an FYI anyhow, why not color it differently, perhaps even make a featured box out of it.
Well, that about does it for me. I’m sure that you’ll take these suggestions into consideration for your design of the 11^th^ edition of the Gregg Reference Manual.