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Before & After Page Design

4.6 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 078-5342795370
ISBN-10: 020179537X
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Before & After magazine's focus on clarity and simplicity and its insistence on approaching design not as mere decoration but as an essential form of communication have won it legions of fans. If you're among them, you'll welcome the first book from B&A's founder and publisher. John McWade walks his own talk, bringing you a beautifully clear, cohesive, and elegant primer on page design. You'll learn by example how to design single-page and multi-page publications, brochures, and advertisements, applying the principles design professionals live by. You'll also learn how to choose the right font for your project, why one typeface works better than another, and lots more. Best of all, you'll discover how to think visually-transforming the images in your head into documents that communicate effectively on the page.

About the Author

Designer, teacher, and author John McWade has been at the forefront of the graphic design and desktop publishing worlds for several decades. The very first beta user of the desktop publishing program Aldus PageMaker, he went on to found the first desktop publishing company, PageLab, to take advantage of the new tools. With his partner Gaye McWade, he founded the acclaimed Before and After magazine. He is also the author of Before and After Graphics for Business for Peachpit Press.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Peachpit Press (December 20, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 020179537X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201795370
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #268,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have read this book thoroughly and I love it. It's better than any book of it's kind, and I would recommend it absolutely. I do, in fact, whenever I get the chance.
I own a bunch of books like this (including a couple by Robin Williams), but no other book is written (and presented!) so clearly. McWade is both a designer, making things look good, and a communicator, making things clear. He knows his stuff, but also knows how to make it accessible. And it's worked for me. I'm no professional graphic designer, but I was able to improve the look, and more importantly the usability, of all our corporate paper documents because of what I learned from this book. My partner is amazed (and very pleased). A very good $20 investment.
Though I've been interested in design and typography for years, it wasn't until I read Before & After that I really felt I had the specific tools to make it work. He gives very specific advice and recommendations (point and pica sizes), but still gives you the confidence and know-how to deviate from his recommendations.
Two nits: while everything is explained, not everything is explained in order. For instance, on page 11 he's telling me to use Century Light Condensed 16/18, but it's not until page 37 that I discover that the 16 is the font size and 18 is the leading. That only happens a couple of places, but it something he should have fixed.
Secondly, a few of the examples were clearly written a decade ago and not updated. The principles are still completely valid (and very, very good). But the color scheme on page 160 was so 1980s it was distracting. Sad, since that was hands down the best (and most comprehensive) chapter in the book: "Create a do-it-all business portfolio." Buy it for that section alone.
Seriously, no small business should exist without this book.
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Format: Paperback
So many redesign books say "this is before" and "this is after." But this one has starts with how to design it and then shows a before and after to demonstrate. I like the callouts on why the each part of the layout was done and why it works so that it can be duplicated on my own. The designs also say when that layout should be used. For example, the digest-size newsletter says it's "great for short runs and small budgets" though the author says an example of this layout is Reader's Digest. I don't think of that magazine has having a short run or small budget. But yes, it is smaller.

Some of the vocabulary is unknown to this new designer. For example, on a newsletter each area is explained but what is a kicker? What is a deckhead? He even says that the kicker box touches the edge, but doesn't say what it is. From the context of the layout, I guess it's the name of the magazine, but the kicker has a byline. So maybe not.

There is a lot of great information on the different types of layout, but I'll jump forward to photo layouts since that's one of the things I am working on now. The before and after are dramatically different. And instead of just showing you the after, he shows how the layout came to be step-by-step. The progress photos are a great complement to the simplistic illustrations which I think are called wireframes. There are also tips a non-designer might not notice like overlaps add depth and a reminder to check for trapped space.

I like all the random tips scattered throughout the book that aren't necessarily design, but a good designer probably would probabl know. For example, in the advertising section the author has a tip on taking a color photo.
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Format: Paperback
In case you didn't get this, this book is built from years of newsletter and publication ( ads, flyers, business cards, etc) design in the mighty Before & After magazine.
See: [...] for a taste and some free goodies.
The design examinations here are thoughtful, well-reasoned and thorough from choosing colors to all-important voicing of typeography.
This book is also much cheaper than buying all the back-issues of the magazine. The new design and format do a great job of presenting the designs.
Jim, Before & After subscriber since issue one
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We go at a frenzied pace to acquire and learn programs like Adobe PageMaker, Illustrator, InDesign, Corel Draw, Microsoft Publisher and applications of this type, namely those that are very much involved in `desktop publishing'. Once learned we then sit down and design a newsletter, flyer, brochure or whatever vehicle we pick to convey a message to an unsuspecting public. But, when you sit down and really think about it, who is the `unsuspecting' party? In my humble opinion it is I, the so-called designer of the material that we foist on that public out there.
All too often, we forget, or really never realize that learning desktop publishing programs is but the first step. What we surely need after that is some training on the principles of good design. For those of you that have gone through extensive training in design schools, you know what I mean and can just go on to the book at hand for a concise primer on design. For those that have had no training in graphic design, listen up for your design skills are about to get much more extensive and sharpened.
The book, Before & After Page Design, could not have a simpler or more descriptive title. The title says it all. The author takes a `before' design of some type and then, in the course of several pages, transforms that design into the `after' that leaves you saying, `Sure, why didn't I do that in the first place?". Granted, page design, like all art, is a subjective field, open to the whim and interpretation of the designer. However, I must admit that the initial designs presented (the `before') in many, if not most, cases would have represented my final efforts. But after seeing the transformation to the final (or `after') design, I must admit that it was not only more graphically stunning but totally logical.
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