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As per its byline, the Council of Canadian Academies offers “science advice in the public interest.” The council operates independently and not-for-profit, offering expert and multidisciplinary panel assessments—and a 16-member scientific advisory committee—to “inform public policy development in Canada.” The council’s work, by its own description, encompasses a broad definition of “science” and thus incorporates the natural, social, and health sciences, as well as engineering and the humanities.The RCMP is one of many policing organizations across Canada that will benefit from the Council's report. © Robert Thivierge, 2008  (CC BY-SA 3.0) Talk Science to Me has had the pleasure of working on multiple projects for the Council of Academies for quite some time now. A bit over a year ago, I myself was privileged to meet some of the folks at their offices in Ottawa. I have since edited several remarkable reports epitomizing the council's overarching goal to "identify emerging issues, gaps in knowledge, Canadian strengths, and international trends and practices."

I don’t know how other people are taught, but for a long time I thought that nuclear reactors generated energy through some borderline-mystical atomic process that I could never really comprehend. And that’s partly true. But if you skip the details of how fission actually...

Typesetting and layout aren’t just important to how a document looks. They can also be vital to how easy it is to read. Content creators now have many options for handling these things themselves—everything from default themes in MS Word and Pages all the way...

I am amazed by what our designers can do. I copy-edit a document and send it to Talk Science to Me designers Mari Chijiiwa or Jeff Werner as a Word file, just blocks of black and white text for pages on end. Then they work their alchemical magic...

The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review is a massive report, created every four years, by the International Institute for Sustainable Development, one of Talk Science to Me's oldest clients. We were asked to copy-edit, design and proofread this epic masterpiece, weighing in at 365 pages. The design portion of the project, with its more than 400 figures, tables and images, was mine.

State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014 cover © International Institute for Sustainable Development 2014The SSI report, which evaluates voluntary sustainability initiatives in 10 major agricultural crops, is a massive undertaking of research and writing, and my task was to honour the content and create a logical, readable, accessible—i.e., well-designed—version for our client’s readers, which include experts in the field, laypeople and the media.

The central problem in the design process, which had to be completed—including working with the proofreader—in about a month, originated from a seemingly non-design-related question: who was providing content, and when were they delivering it?

Solve that problem well, and the report would be better designed for it.