Principles of Information Design (Fall 2022)


The objective of this course is to lay a foundation for the design and criticism of informational artifacts as well as the methods of devising effective communication strategies.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the plural philosophical interpretations of the concept of information
  • Understand basic theoretical foundations of information design and communication. 
  • Understand information design artifacts as reasoned and persuasive arguments that are audience specific and situated. 
  • Use the theories and topics presented in this course to identify the problems and analyze the issues of information design
  • Effectively manage and strategize information design projects through through various stages of selection and ideation, organization and form-giving, and critique and evaluation
  • Create and critique informational artifacts with an awareness of history, audience, and context.
  • Work effectively in teams to accomplish a common goal



This course consists of discussions of selected readings, studio/critique sessions, and a set of projects.
Grades will be determined based on the following:
Project Assignments: 50% (15+20+25)
Participation in Class Discussions and Critique: 10%
Exam: 20%
Short Assignments, Readings, and Reading Presentations: 10%
* Also, see note on attendance 


Due to a significant amount of in-class material and work, attendance and active participation in class discussions and group critiques is required. However, please be sure to keep your own health and the health and safety of others a priority by skipping class if you feel sick. I will help you to catch up with the course once you are well. 

Short Assignments

These are supplementary assignments that will help you greatly with the understanding and contextualization of the course content; as well as doing the projects. Short assignments do not have formal assignment sheets. They are all due on Monday at noon, the week after being assigned. I will review all your short assignments at the end of the semester when you will be required to submit them all in one organized .pdf file. You will get a pass (+2); Fail (0) or Incomplete (+1) grade for each assignment. For viewing assignments, submit a 250 – 350 word reflection/report.


As you can see under grading section, I put a great emphasis on your preparation and participation in class. All of you are required to read the assigned papers/book sections and be ready to discuss them in class.


I will use email as means of communication for this course. It is your responsibility to check email often to obtain information related to the course. Canvass is also used for communication in class. You are responsible for monitoring all announcements made in class, via email or canvas.

Information for Students with Disabilities

Please notify me about any special assistance or consideration that you may need. I will do my best to support your learning. The campus disability assistance program can be contacted through ADAPTS:

Honor Code Statement:

Students are expected to adhere to the Georgia Tech Honor Code:

Inclusive Excellence:

The Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts supports the Georgia Institute of Technology’s commitment to creating a campus free of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status. We further affirm the importance of cultivating an intellectual climate that allows us to better understand the similarities and differences of those who constitute the Georgia Tech community, as well as the necessity of working against inequalities that may also manifest here as they do in the broader society. 



Both of the following required texts are available digitally through Georgia Tech library: 

  • An Introduction to Information Design, by Kathryn Coates & Andy Ellison (2014)
  • Design for Information, by Isabel Meirelles (2013)

Supplementary Readings

This course is inspired and informed by the following readings. Selections will be distributed in class for discussion.

  • Heller, Steven and Rick Landers. Infographic Designers’ Sketchbooks. (2014)
  • Lupton, Ellen. Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students (Design Briefs). New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press. (2004)
  • Meggs, Philip B. Type & Image: The Language of Graphic Design. New York, NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold.(1992)
  • Müller-Brockmann, Josef. A History of Visual Communication: From the Dawn of Barter in the Ancient World to the Visualized Conception of Today. (1971)
  • Wurman, Richard Saul. Information Anxiety. (1989)



We will be doing most of the early work using paper and pencil as well as the Adobe Suite. Later in the course, we will use mapping and visualization software as appropriate for specific group projects. While most of the software are available at Georgia Tech library, the students are responsible for accessing the software.. It is also important to note that this is not a class on the software. I recommend that you consult the software help files, available books, or online tutorials if you need more help using the software.


A sketchbook; pencil; and drawing pens
Steel ruler
Tracing paper
8.5”x11” paper
Black mounting board
Spray Mount Adhesive
X-acto knife



Week 1, August 23

Course Overview

Discussion: Why information design? How is information design? (Design process)
Class Activity: Richard Gregory Exercise

Short Assignment 1: Meet with at least 4 other students in the class over lunch/dinner/coffee — outdoors and following social distancing recommendations. Exchange email and numbers. Think of ways that you can share notes, create study groups, or support each other in other ways. Submit a picture of your group meeting and key notes about how you plan to support one another throughout the semester.

Short Assignment 2:
View: IDEO redesigning the shopping cart (Be ready to discuss in class next time)
Find: 100 uses for a paper clip

Week 2, August 30

Information Hierarchy

Class Activity: Richard Gregory Exercise
In class: Picasso (upside down)
Discussion: Critique
Lecture: Hierarchy and Voice

Reading: Coates and Ellison; Chapters 1 & 2.

Short assignment 3:
View: Helvetica (the movie)

Project 1. assigned.
** Data Gathering Assignment Explained/Assigned

Week 3, September 6

Information Hierarchy

Project 1, Part 1. 10 Iterations + Research Due. Critique
Reading: Coates and Ellison; Chapters 3 & 4
Lecture: Typography and Grid

Short Assignment 4.
Draw grid structures of 3 pages from 3 websites (9 pages)

Week 4, September 13

Principles of Composition

Project 1, Part 2. 5 Iterations Due. Critique
Class Activity: Design your process book + Project 2 Refinement

Short Assignment 5. Play type crime games ( List 6 Typecrimes and submit.

Draw 3 letter forms. Use/recreate this template:

Week 5, September 20

Principles of Composition

Project 1, Part 3 (Final) Due.
Class Activity 1: Draw compositions + Critique
Class activity 2: Meaning and Organization

Reading: Coates and Ellison; Chapter 5 & 6

Short Assignment 5. View Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision
** Data Gathering Assignment Due (submit excel sheet and 500 word description)

Project 2 Assigned.
Reading/Presentations assignment is scheduled.


Week 6, September 27

Information Visualization, Hierarchical and Relational Structures

Project 2, Part 1. 10 Iterations Due. Critique

Reading: Meirelles, Intro + Chapters 1 & 2 (Student Presentations; Format TBD)

Short Assignment 6.
View:  Hans Rosling, The best stats you’ve ever seen; Jean-Baptiste Michel, Erez Lieberman Aiden,What we learned from 5 million books; & David McCandless, The beauty of data visualization

Week 7, October 4

Studio Session

Studio Session: Project 2, Part 2. 5 Iterations Due. Critique

Short Assignment 7.
View: Chris Jordan, Turning powerful stats into art; Nathalie Miebach, Art made of storms; Nate Silver, Does racism affect how you vote?

Week 8, October 11

Studio Session

Studio Session: Project 2, Part 3. 3 Iterations Due. Critique

Project Due on Friday October 7.

Short Assignment 8.
View: Aaron Koblin, Visualizing ourselves … with crowd-sourced data

Week 9, October 18

No class – Fall Break

Short Assignment 9: This American Life; Episode 110: Mapping (SEP 4, 1998)

Week 10, October 25

Visualization as Representation; Perspective; Argument; and Inquiry

Project 2 Discussion & Presentation

Short Assignment 10. Find a visualization book. Flip through. Find two examples that are intriguing. Research and write about those examples using the concepts you learned in the class.

Project 3 Assigned. Brainstorming Studio Session.

Week 11, November 1


Studio Session: Project 3, Selection and Grouping

Week 12, November 8

Studio Session

Short Assignment 11: Radio Lab, Season 11, Episode 1: The Fact osf the Matter

Week 13, November 15

Rhetorical Framework for Design and Criticism

Project 3: 6 sets of draft visualizations for class discussion

3 refined sets of visualizations for class discussion (+ Canvas Submission)

Short Assignment 12: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “The dangers of a single story”

Week 14, November 22

Open Studio Session

Week 15, November 29

Reflection and Wrap-up

Project 3, Studio Session

Week 16, December 5

Project 3

Final Presentations