Art 461: History of Graphic Arts

objective | process | content details | samples | submission

These synopsis provide the student an opportunity to recognize and articulate an understanding of the following:

The content covered in the readings.

The relevance of the content to their life and to their work as designer/artists.



Process of synopsis:

Each synopsis will be organized as follows:

1: List the key points in outline form from the chapter(s) or reading assigned (as many pages as needed). You can write in your own words but when using direct quotes mark your quotes with page number:

Examples of how to write key points in from the chapters:

- Formalism.. . . Is an aesthetic theory that positions form.. .“(p. 12).
( If you are using these quotes in your critical review papers (AKA Stylebooks) just make sure you add the author and year.)

"We need to help students experience the arts as potentially transformative and to live the possibility of being literally and metaphorically carried away by the song, by the dance, by the vision, by the performance." (Koppman, 2002, p.136)

2: At the top of the first page, write a brief summary on what the reading was about and how you can or have related these ideas to your life or graphic art.

(You should share some new insights or concerns about what was discussed)

3: Please make sure your name, class, date are included in the synopsis.


Content and structure for synopsis:
The paper will consist of a summary at the top of the page, proceeding with a line and then an outline or list of key points from the chapter.

At the top of your synopsis document you will need to write up a summary of the chapter.

1. This paragraph should be at least 5 sentences and no more than 2 paragraphs

2. Explain in your own words, what the chapter is about.  Do not plagiarize and copy directly from the book.  Also write about what you have learned from that chapter and any insights into how it affects your design work or what you see today.

3. Make sure you are writing a paragraph.  A paragraph has a thesis sentence and supplemental sentences to back up the thesis. 4. You must include some personal insight on this reading.

Example: Has it changed the way you view typography? What was the most interesting aspect of the reading and why? Can you relate to what was being discussed? How has your views changed about design or visual culture?

Provide an outline of the chapter by providing the key points.  Include direct quotes with proper citation (page number) from the chapter.


An outline has a balanced structure based on the following principles:

  • Parallelism
  • Coordination
  • Subordination
  • Division


Whenever possible, in writing an outline, coordinate heads should be expressed in parallel form. That is, nouns should be made parallel with nouns, verb forms with verb forms, adjectives with adjectives, and so on (Example: Nouns: computers, programs, users; Verbs: to compute, to program, to use; Adjectives: home computers, new programs, experienced users). Although parallel structure is desired, logical and clear writing should not be sacrificed simply to maintain parallelism. (For example, there are times when nouns and gerunds at the same level of an outline are acceptable.) Reasonableness and flexibility of form is preferred to rigidity.


In outlining, those items which are of equal significance have comparable numeral or letter designations: an A is equal to a B, a 1 to a 2, an a to a b, etc. Coordinates should be seen as having the same value. Coordination is a principle that enables a writer to maintain a coherent and consistent document.

Correct coordination

A. Word processing programs
B. Database programs
C. Spreadsheet programs

Faulty coordination

A. Word processing programs
B. Microsoft Word
C. Page Maker

Explanation: Word is a type of word processing program and should be treated as a subdivision. Page Maker is a type of desktop publishing program. One way to correct coordination would be:

A. Types of programs

1. Word processing
2. Desktop publishing

B. Evaluation of programs

1. Word processing

a. Word
b. Word Perfect

2. Desktop Publishing

a. Page Maker
b. Quark Express


In order to indicate levels of significance, an outline uses major and minor headings. Thus in ordering ideas, you should organize it from general to specific or from abstract to concrete- the more general or abstract the term, the higher the level or rank in the outline. This principle allows your material to be ordered in terms of logic and requires a clear articulation of the relationship between component parts used in the outline. Subdivisions of each higher division should always have the same relationship to the whole.

Correct subordination

A. Word processing programs

1. Microsoft Word
2. Word Perfect

B. Desktop publishing programs

1. PageMaker
2. Quark Express

Faulty subordination

A. Word processing program

1. Word
2. Useful
3. Obsolete

Explanation: There is an A without a B. Also 1, 2, and 3 are not equal; Word is a type of word processing program, and useful and obsolete are qualities. One way to correct this faulty subordination is:

A. Word

1. Positive features
2. Negative features

B. Word Perfect

1. Positive features
2. Negative features


To divide you always need at least two parts; therefore, there can never be an A without a B, a 1 without a 2, an a without a b, etc. Usually there is more than one way to divide parts; however, when dividing use only one basis of division at each rank, and make the basis of division as sharp as possible.

Correct division

A. Personal computers: hardware

1. Types
2. Cost
3. Maintenance

B. Personal computers: software

Faulty division

A. Computers

1. Mainframe
2. Micro

a. Floppy disk

B. Computer uses

1. Institutional
2. Personal


The most important rule for outlining form is to be consistent!

An outline can use topic or sentence structure.

A topic outline uses words or phrases for all entries and uses no punctuation after entries.

Advantages: presents a brief overview of work and is generally easier and faster to write than a sentence outline.

A sentence outline uses complete sentences for all entries and uses correct punctuation.

Advantages: presents a more detailed overview of work including possible topic sentences and is easier and faster for writing the final paper.

An outline can use Roman numerals/letters or decimal form.
Roman Numeral














Examples of a synopsis: sample 1

Examples of a synopsis outlines only: sample 1 | sample 2



All papers will be posted in Moodle on the due date.

No email or printed assignments will be accepted. (Except for the first synopsis. This can be emailed to professor.)

All written assignments must be either in MS word or a text edit program.
(File type accepted: .doc, .docx, .rtf.--- no pdfs allowed)

The last Critical Review assignment is a poster. This will need to be printed larger than 10 x 13 but a digital version of the poster will need to be submitted in Moodle in order to receive full credit.)