I was involved with New Student Orientation for two years at Elon and both years was given a large scale editing and design project. My first year I was given the responsibility to edit the Elon Files, which has an audience of around 1,400 people, as it is given out to the entire incoming student body. I developed the cover, corresponded with the publisher, and edited the content. This helped my professional communication skills along with my copy editing attention to detail. My next year I helped edit the Parent Handbook that is distributed to all parents, friends, and family of Elon students.
The Elon Files is the comprehensive planner that every new student receives on move in day at Elon University. It has the schedule for Fall Orientation along with vital information about the university. It has an audience of over 1,400 students and is used in every Orientation group for five sessions. The back of the book features a planner and calendar for students, ensuring the longevity and usefulness of the publication.
Although this project was outside of class obligations, I still used the techniques I had learned in my professional writing classes. I was able to apply my skills in visual rhetoric to a real project with a very large audience. This gave me an actual rhetorical context in which I was challenged to make an interesting cover and edit the content. The first part of the project was to edit the previous year's Elon Files. I practiced professional communication to contact various offices around Elon's campus. For example, I met with the Technology office and worked through edits of existing content. Then I worked on the content to reflect the audience's needs and purpose. I worked to present the material in a way that was succinct, informative, and relevant to the incoming class.
In terms of the cover, I worked with the New Student Orientation staff to collect images of Elon and placed them in a collage on the cover. I used my visual rhetoric skills to acknowledge that the files were going to be an essential part of the campus culture for not just Orientation, but for the year. As a resource, guide, and even further, a keepsake for students, I recognized the need of the cover to grab attention. I wanted it to be interesting and reinforce the values of the Elon community. I used color, font, and images to construct the narrative of Elon identity for the audience. The colors were maroon, gold, and white, which are the colors of Elon. Subtly playing off Elon's theme of "Live the Maroon Life," I made a large section of the cover maroon. I also chosse images that the students would identify with, such as football games, friends, and concerts. I chose the font becasue it was eye catching and fresh, two relevant ideas for a cover.
For the Elon Files, I learned to adapt and develop rhetorical strategies in response to the specialized situation. I built upon my experiences with client collaboration and wrote for a real audience. This project helped me grow in my identity as a writer and editor. It also gave me a strong experience in professional collaboration with all the university offices. I am pleased with the end product and enjoyed seeing the processes through. At the end of the editing and designing I worked with the publisher to confirm the order and was overjoyed to hold the final product.