As with everything, it all starts with a good content, and can be finished of with good looks. A thesis is not much different in that, and so I did put some time in coming up with a good design for mine.
I’ll take you through some of the ideas behind the design of the entire document, from title to logo to layout.
First of all, the title. While doing my research I was literally mapping all the different policy instruments that are available for direct current and sustainable energy in general.
When the map has been created, the next step was looking for any gaps in the instruments that need to be filled for the development of DC. Hence, the title became: “A gap in the map?”
Next, the logo. For the design I took the idea of a map and of four different islands under which the different instruments could be classified (this later changed in the final version, but for the logo this was better).
Another relevant discussion is the one between Alternating Current (AC), the current standard, and Direct Current (DC), the new technique. The technicalities don’t matter for the design, but the difference between AC and DC could be easily shown as four ‘islands’, namely A, C, D & C. Put together in a square you automatically see them, while also seeing the difference.
Then the coloring of the logo. For this I looked at the colors of the logos of the companies the research was done for. Using Google I found these color cards for Grontmij and ABN AMRO. From these cards I took the main color and first accent colour of Grontmij and ABN AMRO to fill the blocks. For the letters AC the main colors were used to emphasize the dominant position of AC, whereas the first accent colors were used for DC to show that it is less well known than AC.
As a final touch I added a photo of an office building as background effect to emphasize that the research took place in an office building.
Lay-out, images and tables
Moving on to the further lay-out of the document, I used a two column layout with white borders with widths as determined by the University. The titles of the chapters, as well as the introductory paragraph span two columns, whereas all the main text is placed into one column. Images are either one or two columns wide, depending on the amount of information in the image.
For the text a combination of fonts was used. While searching online I found this website on which a series of nice font combinations is presented. I opted for the combination of Helvetica Bold and Garamond. This combination works very well. with the sans serif Helvetica (bold) for all the titles and headings and with serif Garamond to make reading easy.
For the chapter titles the colour blue of Grontmij was used, whereas for the (subheadings) gray and black have been used. All main text was also in black. One notable exception are the numbering of the tables and images. For this the words Image/Table and the number were shown in green (for the images) and blue (for the tables).
As a final design aspect I chose to (re)draw any images in the green color of the ABN AMRO logo, and all tables used the blue of the Grontmij logo for accents.
When adding all these elements together it created a very professional look which has supported the contents of the report. And probably had a positive impact on my grade as well, but that can only be guessed.