Today on the magazine’s website, GQ has posted a sildeshow of never-before-seen Iraq war documents from Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon bearing Bible verses. It is titled “Onward, Christian Soldiers!”
In the days surrounding the U.S. invasion of Iraq, cover sheets — like the ones in this exclusive GQ.com slideshow — began adorning top-secret intelligence briefings produced by Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon. The sheets juxtaposed war images with inspirational Bible quotes and were delivered by Rumsfeld himself to the White House, where they were read by the man who, just after September 11, referred to America’s war on terror as a “crusade.”
Apart from the obvious issues raised by perverting Bible quotes to perfume a rotten war, I am personally shocked and awed by the horrific graphic design decisions exhibited in these cover sheets.
The pages all look exactly like the poorly-produced urban legends, political attacks, and religious tracts that well-meaning relatives and acquaintances frequently forward to a long list of email recipients. The thought that presidential intelligence briefings would display the same level of sophistication is downright chilling.
Nearly all of the content is centered. Fonts are changed at random. Capitals are overused. A green Bible verse from Isaiah is superimposed on a similarly green background. Spatial boundaries are violated. Lowercase descenders overlap into graphics. Each slide shows another abomination unto all known graphic design principles.
Most readers would take one look at this mess and reject it all as crazy.
If you want the ideas you communicate to be understood and accepted, you really must give some thought to presenting them in an organized and coherent style.
One of the best introductory books I have ever found on the subject is The Non-Designer’s Design Book by graphic designer Robin Williams (there’s also a deluxe edition which incorporates her her best-selling The Non-Designer’s Type Book).
For heaven’s sake, if your documents look as godawful as these pages from the Pentagon, then do yourself a favor and devour Ms. Williams’ clear and concise book. Assimilate her four basic constraints on CRAP: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity.
The tips she provides will give your family reunion invitations (or your post-invasion planning) a cleaner, more compelling look.