Presenting Information: Spring 2014


Diane Bailey



University of Texas at Austin


Bad information design choices confront us every day. Posters and flyers force us to hunt for basic information of where, when, who, what, and why. Emails ramble, address too many topics, and bury requests at the bottom. Reports lack clear formatting that would help us find information quickly; graphics appear in reports with no explanatory text or titles. We see newsletters with vague content and hear talks that meander with no clear point. Slide decks inundate us with bulleted lists and animation. Whether the presentation is numerical, visual, textual, or verbal, bad design choices hinder our ability to comprehend and use information.

As information professionals, we, of all people, ought to know better. This course is one attempt to make sure we do. But mostly, it is an opportunity for us to have fun exploring new areas while learning how to be good presenters of information. That is to say, if you think you’ll like learning why white space is our friend, why tables look better with shading than with grid lines, why a three-panel layout is a winner every time, and why “tell them where you’re going, tell them where you are, tell them where you’ve been” is a bit tired as a plan for talk outlines, this course is for you. Although our time together will be slanted towards gaining practical skills, we will build up these skills on the basis of our understanding of fundamental theories in areas such as cognitive psychology and communication that explain how people perceive and construe sensory input.

Required Textbook:

Few, S. 2006. Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data.
Golombisky, K., Hagen, R. 2010. White Space is Not Your Enemy: A Beginner’s Guide to Communicating Visually through Graphic, Web, & Multimedia Design.
Reynolds, G. 2008. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery.
Roman, K., Raphaelson, J. 2000. Writing that Works: How to Communicate Effectively in Business, 3rd ed.
Thurman, S. 2003. The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment. (or another grammar book of your choice)

Link to Syllabus: (pdf)


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