Spring 2020

LMC 3705: Principles of Information Design

Office: TSRB 316A
Office Hours: By appointment
Email: ledantec@gatech.edu

Class Meetings: Monday/Wednesday, 9:30–10:45AM
Location: Swann 106

Course Description

In this course we will study and explore the principles, practices and genres of contemporary information design. Specifically, this course emphasizes the design and use of computational media to organize and communicate complex data in forms such as interactive kiosks, animated visualizations, interactive maps, and large-scale displays in public space. In addition to studio-based projects, this course will include discussions of readings and projects from the fields of art, design, human-computer interaction, and science and technology studies.

Course Objectives

After taking this course you should be able to:

  • Gather, analyze and abstract data for manipulation and presentation using digital media
  • Create effective and compelling information design artifacts using digital media
  • Contribute to the development of new genres and forms of digital media
  • Create digital artifacts with an awareness of history, audience, and context
  • Appreciate and evaluate future trends in the development of digital media
  • Be able to work effectively in teams to accomplish a common goal


The total grade for the class will be based upon the following factors and weights:

Participation: 10%
Design Challenges: 40% (10% each)
Design Project: 50% (10% per milestone)

Participation & Attendance

Class attendance and participation is mandatory. Participation in class discussion and in design crits are imperative because they allow you to explore content and design process collaboratively. Participation in class also challenges you to continuously question, refine, and articulate your own ideas and interpretations.

Missing more than 2 classes will result in a loss of 1 letter grade.

Please note that there are three kinds of absences that will not

be counted against your participation grade provided that you provide appropriate documentation within one week of the absence:

  • If you have a family emergency and provide me with a note from the proper authority.
  • If you have a GT extracurricular activity and provide me with a note from your coach or advisor.
  • If you have an internship or job interview and provide me with documentation from the company in question (the invitation to the interview is ideal in this case).

Readings & Texts

The following books are required for the class. Content from the books is not guaranteed to be covered during class lectures. It is your responsibility to complete the reading and to integrate the concepts into the homeworks and projects.

Books are (or should be) available at the Bookstore.

  1. Edward Tufte. Envisioning Information. ISBN 978-0961392116
  2. Nathan Yau. Visualize This: The FlowingData Guide to Design, Visualization, and Statistics. ISBB 978-0470944882
  3. Ronnie Lipton. Practical Guide to Information Design. ISBN 978-0471662952

Additional reading will be available via the class’ Canvas site (canvas.gatech.edu).

Class Resources

Despite there being no exams drawing on this material, these are essential references for information design and will serve you for the rest of your time in school and beyond.

Christian Leborg. Visual Grammar. ISBN 978-1568985817
Ellen Lupton. Thinking with Type. Second edition. ISBN 978-1568989693
Edward Tufte. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. ISBN 978-0961392147
Edward Tufte. Visual Explanations. ISBN 978-0961392123
Richard Saul Wurman, Information Anxiety 2. ISBN 978-0789724106

We will not spend time in class learning Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, or Adobe Photoshop. If you are new to these tools, it would be prudent to invest in these books or similar resources:

Adobe Illustrator CS6 Classroom in a Book ISBN 978-0321822482
Adobe InDesign CS6 Classroom in a Book ISBN 978-0321822499
Adobe Photoshop CS6 Classroom in a Book ISBN 978-0321827333

Course Schedule

What follows is an outline for the semester. As the semester progresses, we may adjust dates and materials; however, unless specifically stated in class, you should assume this schedule is current and accurate.

Week 1 What is information design?

Design Challenges

Brainstorming & Critique
Week 2 Critique

Design Challenge 1

Typography + Grids


Edward Tufte, Envisioning Information. ch. 1 and 2

Ronnie Lipton, Practical Guide to Information Design, ch. 1, 3, and 4.

Red Labor, Know Your Type.

Week 3 MLK Day

No class.

Information Architecture


Edward Tufte, Envisioning Information, ch. 3.

Robert Waller, “Making Connections: Typography, Layout, and Language.”

Kostelnick, R. “Supra-Textual Design: The Visual Rhetoric of Whole Documents,” Technical Communication Quarterly 5.1 (1996): 9-33.

Week 4 Critique

Design Challenge 2



Lim, Stolterman, and Tenenberg –The Anatomy of Prototypes: Prototypes as Filters, Prototypes as Manifestations of Design Ideas–

Week 5 Critique

Design Challenge 3



Yau, Visualize This, introduction, chapters 1 and 2

Jakob Jochmann, What Makes a Good Infographic?

Project Design Brief

Week 6 Critique

Design Challenge 4

Data Sources


Yau, Visualize This, chapters 3, 4, 5.

Week 7 Critique

Project: Questions + Issues + Data Sources

Maps and Mapping

Edward Tufte, Envisioning Information. ch. 3 and 4

Week 8 Design in Space


Edward Tufte, Envisioning Information. ch 6

Yau, chapters 8 and 9.


No class.

Week 9 Critique

Project: Data Visualizations


No class.

Week 10 Critique

Project: Data Visualizations

Week 11 Spring Break
Spring Break
Week 12 Critique

Project: Layout + Support Content

GA Smart

No class

Week 13 Critique
Week 14 Critique
Week 15 Critique
Week 16 Final Presentations

General Class Policies

It is important to keep in mind that this class focuses on the principles and processes of information design, not on technical skills; it is therefore up to you to develop and/or hone your facility with Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop.

Students whose work meets all criteria outlined for an assignment will receive a grade of C; students whose work meets all criteria and shows additional sophistication, thoughtfulness, research and creativity will receive a grade of B; students whose work meets all criteria and goes well beyond the expected in terms of sophistication, thoughtfulness, research, and creativity will receive a grade of A; students whose work fails to meet to all criteria outlined for an assignment will receive a grade of D or F.

Two points will be deducted for all typographic, spelling, and grammatical errors in all writing assignments.

Late assignments will not be accepted. Presentations must be given on the designated day.

Lectures will not be posted. It is your responsibility to take notes and remain attentive in class.

If you have questions or concerns about this or any other course policies stated in this syllabus, class assignments, email correspondence, or announced in class, please speak with me in class, during office hours, or via email as soon as possible so that we can discuss your concerns.

Debate, Diversity, and Respect

In this class, we will present and discuss a diversity of perspectives. Although you may not always agree with others’ perspectives, you are required to be respectful of others’ values and beliefs. Repeated inappropriate or abusive comments and/or behavior will be cause for disciplinary action. If you feel that your perspectives are being ignored or slighted, or you in anyway feel uncomfortable in the classroom, please contact me immediately.

Students with Disabilities

Students should self-report to the Access Disabled Assistance Program for Tech Students at:
220 Student Services Building
Atlanta, GA 30332-0285
404.894.2564 (voice) or 404.894.1664 (voice/TDD)

Scholastic Dishonesty and Academic Misconduct

This class abides by the university’s policies relating to plagiarism, scholastic dishonesty, and academic misconduct. Per the Georgia Tech Code of Conduct, plagiarism is defined as:

  • Unauthorized Access: Possessing, using, or exchanging improperly acquired written or verbal information in the preparation of a problem set, laboratory report, essay, examination, or other academic assignment.
  • Unauthorized Collaboration: Unauthorized interaction with another Student or Students in the fulfillment of academic requirements.
  • Plagiarism: Submission of material that is wholly or substantially identical to that created or published by another person or persons, without adequate credit notations indicating the authorship.
  • False Claims of Performance: False claims for work that has been submitted by a Student.
  • Grade Alteration: Alteration of any academic grade or rating so as to obtain unearned academic credit.
  • Deliberate Falsification: Deliberate falsification of a written or verbal statement of fact to a Faculty member and/or Institute Official, so as to obtain unearned academic credit.
  • Forgery: Forgery, alteration, or misuse of any Institute document relating to the academic status of the Student.
  • Distortion: Any act that distorts or could distort grades or other academic records.

For more details on the honor code see: http://policylibrary.gatech.edu/student-affairs/academic-honor-code