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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."

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.

Science provides discovery. Design provides clarity. Together, they provide an endless fascination with the world. This mantra has continued to guide my creative process since joining the Talk Science to Me team in February. My first couple of projects with Talk Science To Me involved collaborating to produce both online and print publications. With...