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Design has one thing in common with biology: There’s no such thing as spontaneous generation. Whether you’re designing for folks in the newsroom or the boardroom, you have some predesign work to do if you hope to produce a design that works, literally and figuratively.

Novices may be inclined to go straight to their computers. But professional designers know that effective graphic design begins with research: information gathering and critical thinking about the project at hand. Next comes brainstorming: tapping into creativity and putting pencil to paper. So we’re going to have to ask you to step away from your computer.

Appealing to your ...

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