pure design mario garcia pure design 79 SIMPLE SOLUTIONS FOR MAGAZINES B O O KS , N E W S PA P E R S , A N D W E B S I T E S MILLER MEDIA S T. P E T E R S B U R G , F L O R I D A Published by Miller Media St. Petersburg, Florida © 2002 Dr. Mario Garcia All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in whole or in part without permission from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review, nor may any part of this book be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or other, without written permission from the publisher. Special thanks to Dr. Pegie Stark Adam, Rodrigo Fino, Mario Garcia, Jr. , Ed Hashey, Mignon Kagnie, Aaron Kenedi, Jan Kny, Theresa Kral, Elena Lazaro, John Miller, Robert Newman, Ron Reason, Paul Ripoll, and Robyn Spoto.
Cover and interior design by Miller Media Research by Robyn Spoto and Elena Lazaro Copy editing and proofreading by Mimi Kusch Front cover photograph courtesy of GettyOne Images Aesop fable image courtesy of Mr. Agustin Edwards Library of Congress CIP ISBN 0-9724696-0-5 Printed in Spain 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 To the memory of my father, whose passion for his craft inspired my own M. G. Last year, I was lucky enough to be in Chile, as a guest of Mr. Agustin Edwards, the publisher of El Mercurio. At one point, Mr.
Edwards took me into his magnificent library to show me several rare books, among which was an illuminated manuscript, circa 1495, of Aesop’s Fables. In addition to admiring the Gothic-style lettering and the 66 miniature illustrations drawn in liquid gold, I recognized instantly the author’s ability to tell a complete story in a few lines. Aesop was a precursor of the Internet, I thought. One does not need to “scroll” to read an entire fable. Whata utilitarian and “modern” way to present valuable information. The inspiration for the short “fables” in this book was born there. — DR. MARIO GARCIA SEPTEMBER 1, 2002 ontents foreword JOHN MILLER xi introduction MARIO GARCIA 1 words HOW TO TELL A STORY 11 type HOW TO USE FONTS 43 layout H O W TO B U I L D A PAG E 7 5 color H O W T O C R E AT E PA L E T T E S 1 3 7 pictures HOW TO USE PICTURES 159 process HOW TO MAKE A REDESIGN WORK 187 APPENDIX ten myths of design 201 acknowledgments 210 foreword JOHN MILLER If I had designed 450 newspapers and been called the most important newspaper designer in the world, I’d be tempted to rest on my laurels. Not Mario Garcia. The architect behind some of the most successful redesigns in the world, including The Wall Street Journal (U.
S. , Europe, and Asia), Die Zeit (Germany), El Mercurio (Chile), El Tiempo (Colombia), Liberation (France) and The San Jose Mercury News, Mario Garcia continues to be a visionary leader in the world of publication design. For the last thirty years, he has championed ideas about readability, storytelling, and multiple points of entry and has helped define how content is presented in all media with one fundamental goal in mind: always design with the reader in mind. But today readers have changed. People are inundated from so many directions they don’t have the time to make sense of it all.
They flip, they scan, and they surf. All at once. Scarborough Research recently reported that 91 percent of Internet users with a TV in the same room surfed and watched television simultaneously! (We usually blame the web for this, but it probably should fall on remote controls, the device with which people began seriously determining whether or not they were interested in a television station—within five seconds. ) xi mario garcia Editors and designers have responded by cramming in more and more and more and more, cranking up the volume in a cacophony of grueling, information-dense pages and mesmerizing, whirring screens.
But Mario’s response is a new kind of design: Clean, elegant, usable, and true to itself. Design that stands out from the clutter by presenting information in a radically simple, stripped-down way. In a word, pure. Pure design is not a revolutionary concept. In fact, its basic, “less is more” principles apply to all forms of design. Mario’s series of design solutions presented here will give designers new perspective, help them decide what information is most important, and provide successful ways to present it. Mario’s ideas on ure design have been immensely helpful to my team and are the reason for my involvement in this book. We’ve been privileged to work alongside him and have seen the effectiveness of pure design in action. Today, this philosophy affects all of my work. During a recent redesign, we finished the look and feel of the pages quickly, but went through round after round of designs of the information graphics, a key element in the new style. With each successive revision, we peeled off another layer of unnecessary information. It was a lot of work, but in the end we were left with xii pure design omething brilliant: designs that were clean, simple, and instantly accessible. For decades, designers have looked to Mario Garcia for inspiration, direction, and new thinking. In today’s information-riddled world, the idea of pure design makes more sense than ever. ? xiii introduction MARIO GARCIA Pure design is just what it sounds like—creating storytelling structures that are simple and uncomplicated. Whether it is for the design of a newspaper, magazine, website, CD cover, newsletter, or annual report, the inspiration for pure design comes first and foremost from the content to be presented.
Once that has been established, pure design calls for what I refer to as “look and feel” that is appropriate for the content and audience for which it is intended. After years of print design developing as a means to adapt to rapidly growing technology, today design is starting to relax a bit, sort of what happened in the late 1960s, when the so-called minimal artists who emerged in that era insisted on stressing a certain architectural precision, which led to clarity and a non-relational organization of parts. Indeed, it was a style of expression stripped of decoration and excesses.
As minimalist artist Frank Stella famously said of his painting, “What you see is what you see. ” For the visual journalist—those of us dealing with very specific content aimed at chronicling a story—the motto could be “what you see is how it is. ” 1 mario garcia My idea of pure design is inspired by minimalism. And, although this movement found its truest manifestations in sculpture— composed of modular units, aluminum and steel cubes, etc. — one can relate to how artists of this group created, for example, horizontal sculptures made of identical units.
The overall impression, however, is what contributed to “telling the story. ” Likewise, pure design is a series of repetitions: how story structures are created, how a grid is adhered to, with the same number of columns and equal repetitions of white space, for example, with a typographic cluster that is identical, and, if possible, based on one family of type; all of which is ultimately highlighted by a color palette, again, made up of similarly hued colors, and only a few, which are constantly repeated. To the minimalist artist, repetition of forms gave way to a grand overall impression.
The same is true for those of us who adhere to pure design for telling stories in print and the web. The segments that follow attempt to make clarity and simplicity foundations for all we do as designers. If the story is told with clarity and simplicity, then, indeed, “what you see is the story”. That, after all, is the most important part of our job. However, in our work, clarity and simplicity rely more on the designer’s instinct than on theory. 2 pure design Design Theories A graduate student from an American university recently wrote seeking ssistance with her doctoral dissertation. “I am trying to establish some theories of newspaper design,” she explained. My response was that there are no “theories” of newspaper design, at least not in the abstract sense of the word. Newspaper design is deeply rooted in practical realities and is more an organic than an abstract theoretical process. The most I could offer were some generalizations about what we do with visual journalism: ? Make it easy to read—use typography that is clear, easy on the eyes and very legible.
Make it easy to find—employ navigational tools that allow the reader to get to the content he or she wishes to read in the least amount of time possible. Make it visually appealing—provide an environment in which good content will find attractive display, thus increasing the number of readers who will use it. ? ? Pure design is all about paving the way for readers to move through a publication or website almost effortless, while enjoying the experience. 3 mario garcia Achieving Design Balance How we achieve this level of design varies from medium to medium, as factors such as size, format and time spent make a difference.
For practical purposes, let us examine how pure design applies to a well-designed newspaper, knowing that its applications to magazine and Web design almost parallel. A well-designed newspaper must have: ? Newsy and appealing front pages. At least three powerful stories (high on emotion, low on baggage). At least one wonderful photo that conveys it all in ten seconds. A list of what I must know I’ll find in the paper today. A very short list of what I should know if I have an extra five minutes. Something to make me feel good about me. . . . ? ? ? ? ? Good indexing
An index has always been an important part of a good newspaper. However, the emergence of the Internet, and the fact that so many newspaper readers browse web sites, where navigation is a key element, has made it even more important for the modern newspaper. 4 pure design Legible typography A newspaper is, after all, for reading. It is a fact that about 85 percent of what appears in most newspapers is text. Uncomplicated page architecture Good design uses a precise grid, with combinations of columns based on a specific basic set, let us say five or six, from which other combinations are created.
Steps to Design Success In 1981, in the first edition of my textbook, Contemporary Newspaper Design, I listed three challenges redefining the role of newspapers. Today these also apply to the various media: ? Accepting the emergence of television as a far-reaching medium for news and entertainment Satisfying the informational needs of a greater number of readers who have moved to the suburbs and created news microcosms within the large metropolitan area Developing content relevant to the changing lifestyles of young readers and reestablishing the newspaper habit among the large number of nonreaders 5 ? mario garcia For the most part, these challenges remain with us. But if I were to reconsider them for today’s publication design environment, as a publisher recently asked me to do, I’d list the top three contemporary challenges redefining the role of newspapers as these: ? Include local news. It’s what readers everywhere crave, followed by better and easier-to-use information on health, technology, and personal finance. Coordinate with your website to provide more service-oriented features and lists. Lists do very well with today’s readers.
Introduce supplements for younger readers, not necessarily about entertainment but about issues of particular interest to this age group. ? ? These challenges make the process of change, of redesign, even more important than ever before. The key is getting all the pertinent information before the project starts, and then establishing a time line that accommodates a gradual process. Here are some steps that are crucial to redesigning any product, from a simple two-page brochure, to a major annual report, magazine, newspaper, or website: ?
The briefing stage: All those involved discuss the scope of the project, where they wish to take the subject of the redesign, visions of the future (a redesign is done for the next two to four years, not for the here and now), changes in content (which are vital to a good redesign), navigation of the new product, and links to its website. 6 pure design After this briefing, the team is ready to work on sketches, to visualize abstract discussions, to make them a bit more real. ? The sketching phase: Here the designers prepare two or three versions with different styles and typography to present for discussion.
This is one of the more creative aspects of the project, and my favorite. The sketches are presented, discussed by all, and then some conclusions are drawn. Now we either go back to the drawing board and start again, or we take concepts from here and there, to incorporate into a more final prototype. The prototype phase: Here the team puts together a complete sample of the new product incorporating all the agreed-upon changes. Perhaps this version is tested with focus groups, which are then discussed, analyzed and a final prototype is then prepared.
The implementation phase: The team prepares its style manual and trains designers and subeditors for the launching of the new design. Training is an important part of what happens here. This is what guarantees that a design will be followed. ? ? Design for people and place Finally, publications, especially newspapers, must fit in with their city, their readers, and the communities they serves. Each newspaper must have its own identity and personality, and not copy that of another paper. Aesthetics is secondary to individuality. 7 mario garcia
Newspapers that do this that will be around for many more years. Pure design does not work outside the limitations and requirements of the technology we use to produce our work, and, most important, without taking into account the realities of marketing, circulation and the changing reading habits of people who live in an unprecedented information revolution. The most successful projects are those in which a content realignment precedes the redesign process, and the editors are ready to tackle the issue of how to highlight that good content through design.
To that effect, we start with the creation of story structures, which eventually lead to typographic components and then to the right page architecture and color palette. I could have probably told that doctoral student who asked about theories of newspaper design that the phases described above, although not specifically theoretical, constitute the basis of good progression for design generally, allowing both journalists and designers to divide the work into units that link processes and stimulate creative thinking.
And pure design does not exist without a good sprinkling of common sense, the ability to surprise oneself with new concepts, and that element of passion that separates the magnificent project from the rest. ? 8 words HOW TO TELL A STORY 11 mario garcia Engines to good design Designers who respect words gain the respect of the editors they work with. Respect for words shows in every page. Words hold the key to our senses, in ways that perhaps visuals, and even the power of color, can’t.
We may be impacted by the presence of a bright hue on a page, but words mesmerize, and are remembered long after our eyes went on to seek other sensations on another page. Not long ago, Tom Brokaw was presenting a lead-in to a documentary on the Baby Boom generation. He was seated at his desk in a dark suit, with nothing around him but the weight of words. The words themselves were far more powerful than any of the footage shown. For the designer, words have practical applications: ? Certain “key words” give us visual clues.
Cling to adjectives (“this was an over-the-top school principal”), to descriptive phrases (“it had not rained for days, all was dry and brown”), or point of view (“there was nothing humorous about this meeting”) and seek ways to reflect them on the page. The tone of the words leads to the tone of the design. While reading a manuscript, a good designer underlines any passages that describe potential visuals. ? 12 pure design ? Even when words are used to point directly to an aspect of a story such as “ what the strike means”, the designer can then utilize visual tools to make the material more comprehensible.
It is an interesting exercise, and one I recommend to start by writing a short paragraph descriptive of what a design project is all about. I find myself making notes that read: “This is a text-driven newspaper where what one reads is more important than what one sees. . . .” “Here we must explode with energy on every page: the bold, the large, the bright hues, all are protagonists in this circus-like environment. . . .” “A website for those who wish to meditate and contemplate: go easy on the bright images; find dropped capitals to intercept here and there. ” ? When a reader sees a page, it is the words he begins with.
No matter what one is designing, he begins with words. It all starts with words, so we begin our study of pure design with words. ? 13 mario garcia Layering stories Headlines are beacons leading us to a destination. Because the destination is usually a mass of text, smaller beacons, such as deck heads or summaries, also contribute to getting us into a story. But for these devices to work well, copy editors must make sure that each new element within a story structure adds information, that they do not simply repeat the thought from the headline into the deck and into the summary.
When I worked with The Philadelphia Inquirer, the editor would not release the completed redesign until everyone on the copy desk understood and applied the concept of integrated editing: insuring that each element in the story structure contributed an added dimension of the story. At the Asian and European Wall Street Journals, the lead structure on each page uses three elements preceding the text. The main headline, our primary beacon, wets our appetite. The second deck amplifies what the story has to offer, and additional decks or summaries take us by the hand—or the neck—into the text. ? 14 pure design
Hand in hand: The Philadelphia Inquirer editors and designers know that writing, editing and design combine to give us pages where words and images form a harmonious marriage. Headlines and photos/illustrations convey different aspects of a story. Collaboration between editors and designers leads to the best designed pages. 15 mario garcia Summaries Headlines and photos are our most effective tools to grab the attention of readers. However, designers and editors know that summaries—four or five line paragraphs that appear between the headline and the first line of text—can also be good hooks to pull readers in.
Popular with magazines, summaries have made a great entrance into newspapers and other printed matter. The well-written ones do not repeat what the headline says; instead, they flesh out the story, to give scanners an idea of what the story is about. Typographically, summaries should be set in a minimum of 12 points, and should offer contrast to the headline. A very light headline, might use a bold summary, and vice versa. Avoid using very long summaries. One-column summaries should not exceed 8-10 lines. If spread over two columns, summaries should be a maximum of six lines.
Summaries should not appear as an impassable block of text. Instead, they are extensions of the headline, another point of entry to interest the reader. ? 16 pure design Taking the headline further: For “scanners”, summaries may be all of the story they take with them. Santiago’s El Mercurio uses summaries intelligently, in a style that never exceeds 8-10 lines of text. 17 mario garcia A brief should be brief When we conducted the often-quoted Poynter Institute EyeTracking Research, it became obvious that briefs—those short and nicely packaged columns that run up and down on the page— enjoy some of the highest readership.
More than 69 percent of all the briefs that appeared were read in their entirety. We should incorporate briefs whenever possible, and give them a prominent place on the page. Most newspapers run brief columns vertically, usually on the outside of the page, with small, bold headlines and type set ragged right, to distinguish them from regular text. But at The Wall Street Journal Europe, the new design calls for brief columns to appear anywhere but on the edge, making them a more integral part of the page. News websites have enhanced the status of briefs.
A new generation of readers is used to scanning and scrolling up and down to get summaries of stories they may eventually read in their entirety. When those readers transfer to print, they expect the same, smooth type of visual “scrolling. ” There remains a consistent problem with briefs, however. In many newspapers, they are not brief enough. A brief should be what the term implies: not more than fifteen to twenty lines in a one-column setting. If more space is needed, then the editor should create a compact story. Long briefs are unfair to the reader—and the story. ? 18 pure design
Reaffirmation news: Readers come to their newspaper to discover what they don’t know or to reaffirm what they already heardelsewhere. Briefs rank among the most often read items in the newspaper. Editors know that these short items are best utilized with reaffirmation news. The Wall Street Journal Europe runs briefs on almost every page, complementing text-driven pages of news. 19 mario garcia Whispers The storytelling process we design on the page or screen should, as much as possible, imitate how we communicate the same stories orally. This is an effective way to introduce contrast and surprises.
In normal conversation, there is seldom only one aspect of the story taking place; instead, stories run parallel to each other. We start talking to a friend about a movie we have seen but soon take detours (sometimes better than the original story. ) Likewise, in design, we must present visual detours. Traditionally called “sidebars”, they are more than just that. If we use the conversation metaphor, these detours are “whispers”. Say you are at a busy cocktail part and a speech is being presented. You “whisper” your sidebar to the person standing next to you. You add to the story.
You bring in background information. You remind whomever you are talking to of an event in the past that ties in to the speech of the moment. When placed on the page, whispers are second readings, normally short (no more than five to six paragraphs), and carry their own headline, since many times they are read first. Reporters and writers who understand the importance of storytelling should suggest whispers in their stories from the start; in cases when this does not happen, it is up to the designer to seek them out, to discuss possibilities with the writers and editors, and to present them.
As runners have known all along, sometimes the detour one takes from the usual route can provide the ultimate surprise. ? 20 pure design Secondary, but relevant: Use “sidebar” items to offer a glimpse into an interesting aspect of a story, to enhance biographical or other encyclopedic information, or to pull away from the narrative with a single element of the story that nobody should miss. This prototype page for the new design of Liberation (Paris) shows an interesting approach to a secondary read that stands out, aided by ample white space on the left. 1 mario garcia Web design? Think books Websites are not like newspapers, magazines or television. In fact, they resemble the book more than any other medium. One buys a book because of interest in a specific topic. This is how users approach sites. A book requires total concentration, as does a website. More important, books normally separate text and photos; this is also something that should happen on websites. In terms of writing, books keep us interested throughout the narrative. Web sites should attempt to do the same.
I believe that the use of the traditional pattern of journalistic writing—the inverted pyramid—may not be the best form to present information on news sites. Instead, knowing that the average computer screen allows about twenty-one lines of text before the user must scroll, we should abandon the inverted pyramid for more of a champagne glass structure, where every twenty-one lines or so the writer makes an effort to keep us interested. Anyone who likes champagne knows that every time the glass is empty, it is nice to have it refilled, and to watch new bubbles rise to the surface. ? 22 pure design
Easy to digest: For the publishers of the Meyers-Briggs personality test, Miller Media created an e-commerce site to highlight current products. Even at the deepest levels of the site, long running text was condensed, with stories edited into bite-sized chunks to pull readers through. 23 mario garcia The influence of books: Book design clearly delineates image from text, also useful in Web design. But the story can also employ multiple points of entry. When Miller Media published a visual biography of the life of Muhammad Ali, the color images and running text told the story of his career.
But another layer was added: readers could flip through the book and read the highlights of Ali’s life through a series of large scannable captions and quotes. 24 pure design 25 mario garcia Web influences The survival of print magazines and newspapers depends heavily on editors’ ability to embrace new media. The future consists of people living in a multimedia environment. They will read on the screen as well as on the printed page. Smart editors will make sure they keep users moving from one to the other, emphasizing the pluses of each as they refer them back and forth.
One of the advantages of the printed page is that it provides a sense of closure. A newspaper or magazine has a beginning and an end, a first page and a last, whereas websites are an endless barrage of information. An editor can take advantage of this; he or she might publish a few paragraphs of an interview in the paper—just the right amount to tell the story—and refer those interested to a site where the remaining text appears. The best publications already include guides to the Internet.
Just as we all find that bibliographies at the end of chapters enhance the utility of books, modern readers welcome a good list of selected websites to consult on a covered topic. But the real influence of the Internet on print may be in indexes, navigational devices and better use of functional color. The Web has made us more aware of indexes, facilitating what we wish to find, and leading us there. Print (not notorious for making navigation easy) can now regularly be seen applying these lessons 26 pure design to contents pages, covers and other indexing tools.
As for color, we are beginning to use it like never before. Web designers have discovered color as a functional element for moving the user from one side of the screen to the other. Print designers are imitating the technique, with great success. There will always be printed newspapers and magazines in some form (smaller formats, for sure), but the strong publications will be allies of everything we are learning from the Internet. ? 27 mario garcia Cross-Platform: Hispanic Business magazine includes Web references in all of their stories.
These include links to reader- feedback pages, online polls and extended versions of stories. 28 pure design Indexes on the cover: Increasingly, we notice that magazine readers don’t spend the time to read the table of contents. John Miller and Aaron Kenedi have been in numerous focus groups where readers preferred coverlines with page numbers to find what they wanted. So when they designed Schwab’s On Investing magazine, they created a cover strategy that featured a mini table of contents—perfect for scanners. 29 mario garcia Photograph captions
After headlines and photographs, photo captions capture the most attention on a newspaper or magazine page. Editors with insight realize that these small text blocks represent a powerful tool in the storytelling process. In fact, research shows that readers seldom move into story texts, that just scanning the other page elements (including captions) satisfies their appetite. Knowing this, what can one do to make photo captions more effective? ? Always make caption type at least one point size bigger than the story text. Increase the leading, or interline spacing, of caption text.
Doing so enhances legibility. Start each caption with a bold element. A good device is to start with one or two words in bold written like a miniheadline. Avoid using the caption to describe what is obvious from the photo or what is already stated in any accompanying story’s headlines. Instead, provide additional information and enhance storytelling. Stand-alone photos, without accompanying stories but with fully informative captions, are particularly effective. Readers love them; good editors use them whenever possible. ? ? ? ? ? 30 ure design Powerful story enhancers: Photo captions prove to be the storyteller’s best ally in guaranteeing that information is read by lots of readers. 31 mario garcia Longer isn’t boring Perhaps it is a result of post-September 11, or part of the influence brought about by the Internet, but there is no doubt that texts appear longer in newspapers everywhere these days. This is a good thing. And for copy editors and designers who worry that longer texts mean more inaccessible or unattractive pages, my answer is that it does not have to be so.
Even that pioneer and master of the short text, USA Today, seems to have opened the door for a few extra lines of text, especially in its cover stories. The good news is that many of these long texts are being read. This spark in reading is not limited to newspapers, by the way. The Wall Street Journal, in a November 9, 2001 cover story, reports that the under-25 crowd is purchasing books in record numbers: “After a decade in which reading was considered about as hip as the Bee Gees, the under-25 set is now buying books for leisure reading at three times the rate of the overall market. The Journal continues to explain that bookstores across the United States report jumps in sales of 20% to 75% in young buyers over the past three years. If this younger generation of readers enjoy their newly discovered activity, it is likely that they will start reading newspapers again. This is a good time for marketing/circulation folks to tune in to this trend, and revitalize their sales and promotion campaigns to tap into this difficult-to-conquer target. 32 pure design What do we need to do to present these longer sorties effectively? n Make sure that there is a very good headline that fleshes out the entire story.
And, remember, longer texts require larger size heads. It is the first signal to the reader about the importance of the story. Establish the type of story structuring that goes beyond the headline, to include one or two decks (or additional smaller headings. ) Incorporate subheads at strategic points throughout the text. Place subheads at transitional points in the story, since many scanners may wish to move to the next interesting segment of the story. (Simply because the text is long does not mean that readers will read it in its entirety. Facilitate navigation within the article itself.
This is an important step, journalistically as well as visually). If visuals are available, play editor, and select the one image that is definitive in presenting the story. Avoid the temptation to incorporate too many visuals, some of which may not contribute much to the storytelling process. n n n If long texts are in, and more readers are coming to the pages we create, we must rally to the occasion. Facilitate movement in a dignified and simple way. Let the value of the story be the engine that gets and keeps the reader interested. n 33 mario garcia Redesign while you still look good
A nervous publisher once asked me, “When is it time to redesign your newspaper? ” The answer to this question is not always easy, but is quite consistent. Many of the editors and publishers who call me do so when their publication has had a dramatic drop in circulation or when a competitor moves in. Sometimes when new editors arrive, they want to innovate, to put their own visual stamp on the newspaper. While all of these reasons may be valid, a redesign really should be a continuous process in the life of a publication, and should not be prompted by dramatic events.
More than before, change is essential for a newspapers and magazines to survive. The competition is fierce. Readers are bombarded by more information than they can possibly process. Papers can’t afford to wait until they look so out of date that they’re losing readers. The best redesigns happen when publications still look good. They’re looking ahead to the next five years. ? 34 pure design When beautiful turns better: Liberation, every designer’s choice of one of the world’s most visually appealing dailies, was turning thirty and wanted to change its look. What to do when one starts with an aesthetic winner?
The Garcia-Media team first reviewed the history of the legendary Parisian newspaper, then conducted workshops to review ways of integrating that rich past into a more interesting presentation of the news and features. 35 mario garcia Case Study | Die Zeit The Challenge: No amount of preparation could ever be enough to tackle this weekly German icon of intellectual journalism, a newspaper that included on its board of directors Marion Grafin Donhoff, one of the most distinguished woman journalists of the twentieth century, as well as former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, plus dozens of extremely bright and opinionated editors.
We did eleven different sets of sketches during the twenty-one months that the project lasted. The first draft was not considered elegant enough: photographs were too big, and some sections were too much like “those British Sunday magazines. ” The next draft was too colorful. Then there was the version that emphasized illustrations, and the version that introduced a colorful promo bar. I still can hear the resounding:“Take it away, this is not us, not now, not ever. ” What we did: After multiple failed design proposals, we decided that a workshop setting, with key editors sitting down with us to “sketch” the aper would be ideal. My designer, Foster Barnes, and I set up shop in a room with two Macintosh computers, a printer, and a screen. Sketches with headlines and text came to life on the screen, the editors commented, and, by the end of the first day, the new Die Zeit was emerging. 36 pure design 37 mario garcia 38 pure design What we did: For the front page of Die Zeit, we proposed five categories for art: ? The abstract photograph: a subtle connection to the topic, not a direct news link. The caricature as photo illustration: a caricature with technology applied, so that the end result looks like a photo in texture, but with the humanity of the drawing. ? The cartoon as photo illustration: An editorial cartoon, with photographic techniques applied. ? The artistic photograph: a photograph that is simply artistic merits space. ? The pencil drawing as photo illustration: a traditional drawing, digitized, with the end product a combination of old and new. 39 mario garcia What we did: We retouched the original redesign in 2000 when new editors wanted more text and larger photographs.
Both were very good decisions, as the newspaper managed to become newsier and attract younger readers. 40 pure design What we did: The creation of a totally new supplement called Leben, which our team carried out under the direction of Theresa Kral, allowed editors to present a product targeted to a young demographic. 41 type HOW TO USE FONTS 43 mario garcia Selecting type Perhaps no task is more painful for the designer than the selection of typographic fonts. Many agonize over their choices. Today, with so many well-drawn alphabets, the task becomes even more difficult.
Some tips for picking type: ? Fonts should be easy to read. Especially for text type, it is best to use type of 9 points or above; many newspapers even go for 10 points for texts, knowing that their older readers appreciate it. Fonts should allow for contrast. Headlines should be bold, and in large sizes, and typefaces should provide contrast through combinations of demi and lighter tones. The font should include a well-designed condensed version. Headline writers will always appreciate this. Fonts should include an elegant italic. It is always needed. Fonts should be appropriate to the publication.
I have said many times that there are Bodoni towns and Helvetica towns. Relate your selection to the culture of the publication’s home. Finally, do not select trendy fonts that will not age well. ? ? ? ? ? Fortunately for designers, classic fonts will always be around. My desert island favorites are: Caslon, Baskerville, Scotch Roman, Franklin Gothic, Frutiger, Bauer Bodoni, Griffith, Miller, Poynter and Old Modern. ? 44 pure design Versatility: Pick a font that has numerous weights and italics. Miller Display has fourteen variations. It is also available in text cuts. 45 mario garcia It’s all in the details
A redesign is complete. Reader reactions start pouring in. Editors and designers meet to see what works and what doesn’t. At the end of the day, when the process is finished, it is all in the details: not only for the editors and designers involved in the redesign, but, of greater importance, for the readers. While many of us start with the larger “strokes” of the design— selecting legible and attractive typefaces, creating good page architecture and an appropriate color palette, the truth is that many secondary details make or break the overall look and feel of a design. What are some of those details? Folio lines: These minute elements tell us the page number, the date, and the name of the publication. Make them easy to read, and, if you can, create a little personality for them. Not every folio has to be one horizontal line on top of which type sits. How can the folios reflect some aspect of the rest of the design? Bylines: There will be hundreds of bylines in the average publication. They should not call too much attention to themselves but also should not disappear. Give bylines a job: to provide typographic contrast between the headline that precedes them, and the text that follows them.
And, don’t forget to create special byline styles for longer reports, exclusives, and for noted writers and columnists. ? 46 pure design ? Captions: The Poynter Institute’s Eye Track research demonstrated how popular captions are with readers. Make them come alive. Provide captions with good information that does not repeat what is visible in the photograph; and make the type sing, providing contrast with the text of stories around them. Photo credits: Small as these are, they are important. Ideally, place them bottom right under they photo, with type that provides contrast to the caption that follows it, in all caps, for example.
Refers: The lines that tell you that there is a related story somewhere else in today’s edition, or that an Internet version is also available, should be wonderful opportunities to apply good typography and effective visual thinking. ? ? ? 47 mario garcia Think text ? rst When we paint the canvas of a page, or screen, most of our strokes are going to be text. We fill entire columns with text, we incorporate headlines, bylines and captions under photographs; we highlight quotations or facts, include boxes with statistics, and we dress up the pages with headers made up of words.
About 80 uercent of what appears on a page is going to be text, not photos or illustrations. It is no wonder, then, that good designers begin strategizing by thinking about typographic elements for the page. Combining good text fonts, with an interesting architecture, and adding touches of contrast (bold, italics, light, condensed) as well as color, completes the package. Here are some tips on using text: ? Start your design by selecting a text font, since that will lead to the rest of your choices. Find a text font that allows for high levels of contrast, so that hierarchy as well as highlighting of certain words is possible.
Look at the text font in various sizes, so that a story could begin, with, say, 12 or 13 point, and then decreases to 10 point. Don’t make text smaller than 9 points; go with 10 when possible. Pay attention to leading —the space between lines. ? ? ? ? Remember that when you dip your design brush in the can, it is mostly text that you will be painting with! ? 48 pure design In-depth and readable: The Wall Street Journal is text-driven product that was designed with text as the first and foremost consideration. Occasional graphics and illustrations are employed to help the story along.
Notice theuse of white space to make the page easier to follow. 49 mario garcia When design looks outdated Typically, five years or more after even the best redesign, wrinkles start to show in a publication’s appearance. The first wrinkles appear in typography, often in the headers used to identify sections and individual pages, or in small type areas such as listings and the type used for infographics. The second wrinkles appear in story-structuring details. Redesigns of a few years ago paid less attention to the process of creating hierarchy on the page.
Many publications relied simply on headlines to get readers into the text; we now know that it takes other devicers such as summaries and secondary headlines to achieve that. The third wrinkles usually show up in the use of color. A palette acceptable a few years ago may no longer look as good, or the publication may be after a different target readership, or it may have different printing equipment with different color capabilities. When wrinkles appear, first study what they are, how they affect the overall design of the newspaper.
Often, one does not have to redesign the entire publication to make some quick but long-lasting fixes that can have a wonderfully rejuvenating effect. ? 50 pure design Ragged right vs. justi? ed It happens often that an editor and a designer argue over how to set the type for a specific story. The designer may wish to have the text set ragged right—meaning that the right hand margin will not be justified as a block. The editor argues that this trivializes the content of the story. When it comes to ragged right versus justified type, the research does not point to very specific differences in terms of legibility for one or the other.
However, it is true that readers tend to associate ragged right with columns and features, but that is because it has been traditionally used this way. Ragged right can be helpful in providing a bit of white space on a crowded page. I recommend it for shorter, not longer, texts. A small box or second reading in the middle of a mass of dense text, set ragged right, provides breathing room and lightens things up within the architecture of the page. Remember, a vertical column of ragged right type should always be accompanied by a thin vertical column rule, to prevent the ragged lines from running into the material to the right. 51 mario garcia Headlines: bigger is better For some reason, headlines have become smaller in many newspapers. Yet readers like headlines that are bigger, especially on inside pages. Every newspaper should have a set of guidelines for the range of sizes of the lead headline. This in turn, determines the proportional size of all other headlines on the page. For instance, say a broadsheet newspaper carries, ordinarily, a 48point headline for its most important story (and that may be small, since 54 points or bigger carries more impact). Then the next important story on the page should have a 42-point headline, and so on.
What we see these days is a lead headline in 36 points atop a page, with the rest of the headlines “whispering” their content. Readers are helped when a page instantly conveys the hierarchy of stories based on headline size. To do less is not to serve your readers well. ? 52 pure design Read all about it: El Tiempo in Bogota depends on street sales. But that’s just one reason its editors use large headlines. Just as important, the headline volume matches the volume of the content. 53 mario garcia Storytelling The single headline is becoming a thing of the past. Multideck headlines result in more reader-friendly newspapers.
With more readers scanning as they move through their daily newspapers, the role of headlines has tripled in importance. Their prominence, usually being at least three times the size of the story text, gives them great power to lead readers into stories or help them decide to bypass a certain story in search of another. To aid this scanning process, add “decks” or “extra thoughts” to headlines. There is an art to doing this properly, however. ? The first line gets into the story; subsequent decks each add more information so that overall they convey the essence of the story.
Multi-deck headlines must offer typographic contrast. If the main headline is bold, then the decks should be lighter in weight. A Roman main headline may be accompanied by decks in Italics. Some newspapers colorize decks. Multi-deck headlines must offer size contrast. If the main headline is set in 36 points, the first deck might be in 18 points, and the second in 14. Multi-deck headlines can highlight an exclusive story or an important author. The British newspapers do this well, using decks to go beyond storytelling into unusual aspects of the story. ? ? ? ? 54 pure design
Adding stories: When John Miller worked on the first Esquire Fiction issue, he added a layer of storytelling to the fiction pieces: an extended caption on each opening spread, which gave readers the story behind the stories. 55 mario garcia Stories on the web: Gensler, the international architecture firm, had a problem. Clients who came to them for, say, airport design, were not aware of their other offerings, like retail design—which might be very useful to someone building an airport. An explanation of this in some sort of philosophy or capabilities page would be ignored by users.
So Miller Media created a corporate site built around rich minisites for each practice area. When you come to the homepage of the airport’s minisite, it’s filled with news of current projects and links to relevant content in the other minisites, like Gensler’s work with retail in airports. 56 pure design 57 mario garcia Italics: not just for features At one point, perhaps in the 1950s, italics were mostly found in the “Women’s” section of the newspaper. Fifty years later, thanks to newsroom legacy syndrome, the rumor persists: italics are not macho enough, you should never use them for sports stories, and never on hard news stories.
And so one still sees italics restricted to articles about flower arrangement, new recipes for quiche, and the latest fashions from Paris. It is time to give italics a bit of credit. Readers do not perceive italics as being less forceful —it is the words that make a headline strong or weak. And readers do not slow down when the headline is in italics. So they can be useful as long as you follow a few guidelines: ? Give italics a job to do through your creation of story structures. In other words, do not use italics for a feature today and for an opinion piece tomorrow, and then for a lead international story the next.
Whatever their particular use happens to be, they should be used consistently and continuously in that role. Avoid excessive use of italics for text. Italics are more suitable for headlines, quotes, and highlights, but are not as attractive in text size. ? ? 58 pure design What a little slant can do: When we converted The San Francisco Examiner from a traditional broadsheet to a vibrant and colorful tabloid, one of the best decisions made was to consider italics for headlines, not just for features, but for news as well.
Especially on double page spreads, like the one shown here, italics bring a certain elegance, a change of rhythm, and visual movement to the page. 59 mario garcia Centered vs. ?ush left headlines Centered headlines dominated newspapers for decades, until, in the 1970s, more experimental newspapers began experimenting with flush-left headlines. Suddenly, newspapers would use the left-hand side of the page to align not only headlines, but also other elements like bylines, summary paragraphs, quotes and captions under photographs.
One of the first newspapers to do this was the now defunct Chicago Daily News. The style was also adopted by the Minneapolis Tribune when, in 1971, it also switched to an all-Helvetica approach. Since then, newspapers have opted mostly for flush left-headlines, especially in the United States, where centered heads are rare in any newspaper today. However, a quick trip across the Atlantic, and one finds the classic Times of London, continuing to use centered heads, as do many other European newspapers, as well as dailies in Asia and South America.
Any comment about one style of headline alignment versus the other would be based only on personal preference. However, how one aligns headlines does have an overall effect on the look of the page. ? Centered headlines give a page a more classic and traditional look; flush left headlines are more modern, and invite more white space onto the page. 60 pure design ? Flush-left headlines must be followed by a flush-left alignment for all other elements that follow it, while centered heads can very well be accompanied by bylines and other elements that are aligned to the left.
Tabloids fare much better with flush-left headlines, while broadsheets can use either style. Consistency is important: keep either all heads centered, or all heads flushed left. However, some papers with centered headlines, such as The Times of London, do offer a bit of contrast by making the headlines for briefs flush left. This is better when there is also a switch of type font. ? ? After all this, we are reminded that the wording of the headline, the message transmitted, the hook to get the reader to read the text is, at the end of the day, far more important than how one aligns the type. ? 61 ario garcia Elegant and easy to read: When Ron Reason first sketched pages for our redesign of the Staten Island Advance, he never imagined headlines in any other way than centered. It was a way of lending elegance to a newspaper with a rich community tradition. Centered headlines also allow for good headline counts, which writers appreciate. 62 pure design Perfectly aligned heads: The Daily Star of Lebanon, designed by our Jan Kny, employs flush-left headlines, which became popular in the 1970s. They help organize the page, with perfect alignment of elements that emphasizes a better use of modular layout.
They also accommodate perfectly square modules much better than they do centered ones. 63 mario garcia Type on photographs If there was ever a subject that could get the emotions soaring in a newsroom, it is the dilemma of whether to put type (headlines) over a photograph or not. Photographers do not want anything to come between their photo and the reader; designers want “freedom” to express themselves; editors either love the practice or hate it. Some publishers I know ban the procedure entirely in their newspapers, sometimes for such trivial, but understandable, reasons such as: “My wife hates that. ” (True story! I have seen type over a photo make everyone look great: the photo, the story, the writer, and the designer, with readers smiling all the way. I have seen it used poorly, especially when a type-happy designer mistakes the photograph as a drawing pad. As with everything else in design: make it pure, make it simple. If the photo lends itself to it, put type on it, discreetly and as a secondary touch to the photo. And fewer words work best. If a designer decides to put type on a photo, a conversation with the photographer will be appreciated. He or she may think the integrity of the image is being compromised.
But tread easily when proposing it, and be ready to scratch your concept, since this is one of those battles that, in most cases, is not worth fighting. Save your energy for real issues, like writing a good headline that does not land on the great photo. ? 64 pure design Numbers and pictures: In an unusual variation, John Miller designed simple infographcis to be used over photographs for Charles Schwab’s investor magazine. The effect achieved an editorial goal: a strong link between the relationships depicted in the images and the company’s success, depicted in the portfolio charts. 5 mario garcia Not just for magazines: The placement of a headline or other type element over a photograph comes naturally to magazine designers but is more carefully calculated among newspaper editors. However, a large headline that is easy to read can complement a photograph, as we see on this front page of Germany’s Morgen Post, the popular Hamburg daily. The image and the headline form a “mini poster” or magazine cover to separate the lead story from the rest. 66 pure design 67 mario garcia What a difference a subhead makes Some stories need to run long.
It is then that the designer works with the writer or editor to guarantee that the text will be easy to read. This is done with subheads, those lines that provide a pause in the midst of the article, allowing the writer to push the content and anticipating what is to come. The effectiveness of subheads is unquestionable. Not only do they provide a visual break, but they also divide or outline the story for readers who scan texts. Sometimes the subheads make the difference in a long article being read or not. How do you use them effectively? ? Do not use mathematical formulas.
Instead, place subheads in strategic points of the text, where they advance the story. Use a size at least one point bigger than that used for the text of the story. A 9 point text would carry 10 point subheads. Allow some white space over the subhead to make them noticeable and to bring the reader’s eye and finger to them. Nothing is worse than a “squeezed” subhead. Both serif and sans-serif fonts work well. Lowercase letters work better than all caps. ? 68 ? ? ? ? pure design Drop caps: help or hindrance? How the eye moves across a page is an issue that editors, designers, and advertisers would like to know more about.
While many studies have been conducted on the subject, the fact remains that we continue to design pages in ways that we personally think make the reader move from here to there. One of the most popular tools, of course, is the use of a large capital letter at the beginning of an article, which, when shown in the size equivalent of three or four lines of type, causes the eye to move to where the text starts. Used properly, these can be effective eye-moving devices. However, used in excess, as in four or five within one article, they lose impact and create an “alphabet soup. Some drop cap tips: Use initials only at the beginning of articles, not throughout the text (subheads are better at breaking up a long article). ? Use initials in a size that does not drown out the headline: ideally, three lines of text. Do not use initials for every article on a page. Instead, give it greater importance by using it for the lead item. Use drop caps functionally, not as decoration. ? ? ? 69 mario garcia Guide Case Study | TV The Problem: When TV Guide was looking to redesign, the editors weren’t concerned about their logo, photography, or any glamourous stuff.
The problem was that cable channels were multiplying, and their trademark small pages were quickly beginning to resemble Sanskrit. They couldn’t make the book any larger, because of their custom grocery store checkout boxes. So the grids had to be reworked, as did the “highlights” listings which ran alongside. What we did: The Highlights pages had traditionally had a “rolling log” design, simply column after column of entries. We remade these in a magazine format, with single page features (right) interrupting the listings, allowing for a stronger editorial voice throughout. 70 pure design 71 mario garcia
What we did: Above, even single pages were interrupted by boxes, for contrast and a stronger editorial voice. What we did: For the grids (right), we did type tests, deciding on a highly readable Interstate Condensed. Leading and tracking were adjusted to fit as much text as possible, while retaining legibility. Next, we looked at the page to see if there was unnecessary information taking up space. We minimized page headers and dropped folios (would you really use page numbers? ). One important piece of information, the day header, was left large. But the real breakthrough was removing the vertical rules in each grid.
While traditional, they are often unnecessary, since the content defines the verticals. This contributed white space, making the pages much more readable. 72 pure design 73 layout H OW T O B U I L D A PAG E 75 mario garcia Page architecture Architecture refers to how a designer uses the space available on the canvas of the page. It is defined by the numbers of columns used, the varieties available, and how text and photos blend on the page. When it comes to page architecture, the front page sets the “mood”, and gives the publication its distinctive personality.
We all identify such newspapers as the Frankfurter Allgemaine, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal by their distinct vertical placement of elements. Recently, the Times sometimes deviates from the strict vertical layouts of yesteryear, with some front pages sporting multicolumn color photos, and the Wall Street Journal Europe and Asia have redesigned to do likewise. However, these classic newspapers remain quite vertical in their approach to news placement. Do readers sense that a vertical architecture lends a more “serious” aura to a page? This question has not been scientifically tested, but it is dear to editors and publishers.
They’re all convinced that a serious newspaper is more vertical than horizontal. Ultimately, it is the tone of the headline, the content of the page, and the overall look and feel of a newspaper that determines how it is perceived, not how the columns are displayed. 76 pure design Let me add that excessive use of vertical columns leads to “tombstoning” (clashing of headlines), and gray masses of type, and overall dullness. As for the more contemporary horizontal placement, it is easier for headline writers and allows the editor and designer better opportunities to create page hierarchy.
For instance, one can lead with a four-column headline, and then move to a measurement of fewer columns. Instantly, the page gains balance and contrast. In the end, content is still king and should dictate how page architecture is utilized. ? 77 mario garcia Designing with columns: Other than type, one constant element in newspapers and magazines is the column shape. Denmark’s Jyllands Posten shows how the movement of columns can inject magic and help complement and contrast other structures, such as photographs, illustrations and graphics.
Sometimes the best “column” is the one that includes only white space. 78 pure design Architecture and hierarchy: The international page of The Wall Street Journal was designed to accommodate tremendous amounts of different information. By distributing the material over the six-column space, with an anchoring spot for the world briefs on the left, we solved the problem and maintained a page that is attractive and easy to follow. 79 mario garcia Systematic chaos Editors are always a bit shocked when I say that I would like to put some systematic chaos on page one. Chaos has a negative connotation.
But, like a pinch of pepper in soup, chaos, in small doses and carefully controlled, adds energy and zest to a publication. The front page is a mirror of what happened the past twenty-four hours. Chances are it was not an orderly fare of events. A front page that is dormant does not reflect this well. So how does one provide systematic chaos? ? Avoid perfectly rectangular architecture. Modular design can be helpful on inside pages, but don’t over apply it to the front. Wrap one major story around another one, allowing for two stories to be above the fold. Sometimes, in our efforts not to make headlines clash, we sacrifice energy and movement.
Have one photograph dominate, and sprinkle the page with a few smaller photos (not too many. ) Add a dash of light color where the reader least expects it or add a story that the reader is not likely to expect on the page, and give it an italic headline. Mix serifs and sans serifs, preferably from within the same family of type. Create templates to “plan” systematic chaos. That is what makes it systematic: it is controlled, with a purpose, planned to be that way. ? 80 ? ? ? ? ? pure design A place for everything, almost: Who says one cannot have attractive pages that are busy?
The Hamburg Morgen Post shows that it can be done well. We kept the edgy, newsy, in-your-face approach to tabloid news, but organized it so that a sense of hierarchy and some order prevailed. 81 mario garcia Content rhythm The American composer, Ira Gershwin, wrote about what he called “fascinating rhythm. ” The idea applies to design. Too often editors put content into “baskets” from which they are not willing to deviate. Observing reader behavior for decades now has taught me that readers are not on the same page, so to speak, as editors when it comes to “rhythm. In fact, they are on different pages, and following different rhythms. The sanctuary of hard news in one corner, and soft news on the other is a myth created by editors. Mix them, and readers are happy. In a modern publication this mixture is critical in keeping readers interested and stimulated. So page two of a newspaper, for example, may have a column, or a soft feature, followed by a hard news item at the bottom, or vice versa. For a reader, fascinating rhythm comes when editors make that monotony never sets in, and that, like life in general, each page reflects the ups and downs of the day. ? 82 ure design Visual parallelism Sometimes a page has all the right ingredients: good content, eyecatching photographs, good copy, and enticing headlines. But the page still looks boring, or, as one editor of a Scandinavian newspaper put it: “I think our page is monotonous. ” In this case, the problem was the designer constantly placed a vertical column of text on the far left hand side of the page, then did the same on the far right of the page, creating “mirror images” that suffocated whatever good might be happening in the center of that page. Perfectly balanced pages are not the most exciting ones.
Create variety. Mix vertical and horizontal units. If the left side is a textheavy column, make the right a series of briefs, with illustrations added. This way visual variety provides excitement. ? 83 mario garcia Indexing There are different ways a publication can use indexing: through promotional units for main stories to the inside, through a specific summary of highlights (the news that the reader must not miss inside), or through a directory of sections, that is, sports, classified advertising, opinion, and so forth. Readers appreciate a newspaper, magazine or newsletter that is easy to navigate.
It is with indexes and promotional units that color is used most effectively, to highlight key sections, or to guide the reader from one section to the next. But do not create indexes to decorate a cover or page one, or to show off good photos or visuals. Good indexes give the front of the publication a sense of hierarchy. What do editors think the reader should read first, second and third? If the reader only has ten minutes, what is must reading? And if five more minutes become available, what should be next? Good indexing prioritizes content for the busy reader. ? 84 pure design
Instant index: El Tiempo of Bogota, Colombia is among the best at using indexing to pull readers in. The front page gives the reader a review of what’s in
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