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Before & After Page Design

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before and after page design

The Bottom Line

Offers an excellent presentation of computer-based design projects that can be used with any desktop publishing software. Before & After Page Design is full of easy-to-read mini-lessons, tips, tricks, design advice, step-by-step instructions, and generous illustrations for a variety of the most common desktop-published documents.
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  • Full of easy-to-read tips, tricks, how-to's
  • Generously illustrated
  • Covers a variety of publications and document styles


  • Pica measurements may be unfamiliar to many new designers


  • Author: John McWade, founder and publisher of Before & After magazine.
  • Paperback. 195 pages.
  • Peachpit Press, ISBN: 0-201-79537-X
  • 6 sections (types of publications) with four or more specific documents in each section.

Guide Review - Before & After Page Design

Organized by type of document, Before & After Page Design dissects each publication, giving clear and concise mini-lessons in design and step-by-step instructions for creating the elements that make up each publication. The book includes single-page and multi-page, color, and black and white documents such as newsletters, brochures, ads, and other common desktop-published material. Some documents include illustrated makeovers with explanations for each change that was made from the format to the fonts. Some of the tips and lessons, applicable to many types of documents, include creating nameplates, using subheads, choosing grids, doing text wraps, selecting folds, finding the right fonts, and incorporating clip art and photos. Instructions and explanations cover both why and how to accomplish each task in desktop publishing software.

Each project includes page specs (measurements) and font specs, useful for trying to replicate each look. While I personally welcome it, some designers may find the use of pica measurements disconcerting.

In addition to the design tutorials, the author's introduction is worth more than a thumb-through. John McWade is a true desktop publishing pioneer and was the very first beta user of Aldus (now Adobe) PageMaker. In his introduction he has refreshingly non-condescending advice for those who want to become designers.

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