Monthly Archives: January 2015

Type size is your friend

streetsofsalem.comMost people never read more than 25% of even their favourite magazine. However, many editors are totally blind to this fact, insisting on getting every single word of their deathless prose wedged into the page. Invoking higher authority, this often produces nothing more than a sophisticated internal memo that no one will ever read.

As designers, we’re culpable in this, as it’s we who set the size of the type in the first place. Not only that, many designers seem to think that readers have 20/20 vision, and are perfectly willing to read large tracts of text across super wide columns in sizes that would strain the eyesight of fighter pilots.

Among many other reasons, this is a reason why I love The New Yorker so much.  Their text is beautifully set, 10/12, I believe, across the correct measure and with perfect kerning.

I’ve written about the print version of The New Yorker previously on this blog, and also had the pleasure of interviewing their creative director, Wyatt Mitchell, the podcast of which you can hear here.

But it’s how they treat their digital platform that’s interesting me now.

eleven postsI have very mixed feelings about this brand online. One of the great pleasures of The New Yorker is that they tell me what’s important, and what I should read. I trust the editors to edit, so when I get messages like the one above I GET REALLY STRESSED OUT!

But on the other hand, if there’s a story I want to read on the go, I’ll happily consume 10,000 words on the phone, such is their quality.

New yorker mobile typeWhich is why I’m so appreciative of the way they’ve set the type. The screen on the left (above) sets up the story with a hed and a picture. But click ‘read more’, and not only do you get the picture caption, (right) but the body copy goes up in point size.

Young-Napoleon-Hugo-D-Aviles-hugo-avilesIt’s a tiny move but it really does prove Napoleon’s point: “Execution is everything.”

This post was first published as part of my guest editorship of the American Society of Publication Designers blog.

Print that.

indy-cover-charlie-hebdoThe murder of Charlie Hebdo’s editorial team is just beyond belief.

How to respond to such an appalling tragedy is now something every editor, journalist and blogger has had to deal with. This is The Independent‘s front page, which rather than focus on the violence, demonstrates the power of a single cartoon to carry the story. But more than that, given how news constantly evolves on digital platforms, it reminds us that print is timeless.

Editor Amol Rajan talks really well in the Guardian about using Tom Brown’s illustration as the splash, but also the decision not to reproduce the Charlie Hebdo cartoons caricaturing the prophet Muhammad, describing it as “too much of a risk”.

The New York Times made the same decision, but Buzzfeed, The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast did publish, suggesting that although digital reach is infinite, the endurance of print gives controversy real weight. And that makes the decision to publish in print so much harder.

There’s no right or wrong here, either way has its merits. But some news organisations have chosen to blur out the cartoons. That’s a rotten decision, as all it does is visualise the censorship. Here’s excellent reporting on that from Buzzfeed.