design for further education

Re: Awarding! New print design for further education

We’ve just completed the layout and artwork of a long handbook – proving once once more that print is very much alive and kicking. People love reading a physical object, so where it’s needed digitally, it just finds different ‘ways of being’. In this case, we have a book which has an initial print run then will be used in tandem as a digital publication.

Our client for this has been FAB – the Federation of Awarding Bodies. FAB is the leadership team that guides further education awarding organisations in the UK. FAB works across the FE sector – including government departments, regulators and funding agencies.

The first creative project for FAB is a classic example of print design for further education – a dedicated handbook for its members. It’s turned out particularly nicely – and is a great example of detailed, user-friendly information design.



A  challenge with this project is that FAB hadn’t commissioned a piece of work of this kind before. As a result there were precious few ‘design rules’ to follow, only new challenges to vanquish.

So with that in mind, we decided to make the brand’s bold red colour a signature calling card of our project,  diversifying the palette somewhat, then using that throughout.

Secondly, we created a brand pattern for the cover which gives texture and character to the book and marks the opening of each chapter.

With a graphic feel created, we knew it was necessary to develop styles for headers, sub-heads, body copy and side bars. Essentiallu devising a hierarchy of information for the considerable quantity of copy within the handbook.

Additionally, running to some 230 pages, finding the information you need quickly was critical. Put simply, it had to be really easy to use. We often talk about this process of navigating to the information you want within websites or long-form publications – but in this instance we were creating a handbook. By definition, this thing had to be… handy.

One way of achieving this was making the pages smaller. Immediately there’s less to take in on each page and hunt through – the book is set in a ‘friendly’ B5 format. We have also broken up the copy with headings, section breaks, quotes and pages full of colour and larger type. These simple techniques render the document more accessible and give the pages ‘pace’ and interest.


‘The Qualification Manager’s Handbook’ – new print design for further education



Whenever we begin work on long form print projects – particularly detailed policy reports and inquiries – invariably the brief includes reference to ‘there are some bar charts‘, as well as ‘a graph or two‘ or a personal favourite ‘I’ve done this sketch of a flow diagram, can you make some sense of it…

And of course we can.

In fact sometimes making visual sense of a few random scribbles is what makes these projects interesting. Certainly the end result breaks up the pages of copy in such a way that readers can stop and take in key pieces of information that define the book. For us, these information graphics give a report or handbook personality and give meaning and context to statistics and history.

Illustrating conclusions can be their most powerful iteration.

A print piece of this length requires a great deal of work to complete. We had the great fortune to work with our long-time collaborators at Policy Connect on the editing and structure of the handbook meaning we could offer FAB a team well-used to projects of this length and complexity.


‘The Qualification Manager’s Handbook’ – new print design for further education

‘The Qualification Manager’s Handbook’ – new print design for further education



Does your organisation need a long-form handbook that is actually… handy?

We can help. Give us a call today on 020 7351 4083.

More about this project