GO AHEAD. READ IT. QUICKLY. “red…yellow…green…bl…” you get the idea. Now comes the fun part. Read it again…as quickly as you can. But this time, read the colors. Start with the first word: What’s the color? Then go on to the second…and the next…and the next. Not so easy, is it…reading the colors when the words say something else? It’s called the Stroop Effect, and one of the things it proves is this: Colors. Say. Things. Trying to read “red” when the color is blue kinda makes the lobes of your brain smack together. We know that the word “red” should be in red, “blue” in blue, etc. And the point is: So do readers. So…be careful when using color. Make sure it makes sense with the words and the story. If not, your readers may feel like they’ve been Strooped.
Why work with filled text boxes (bottom)
when keeping the box transparent gives you a better idea
of what’s going on around you?
MAYBE THERE’S SOME REASON I’m unaware of, but I don’t get it—other than the fact that it’s often set up as a default. Why is it that so many designers work with filled text boxes? It’s one of those details that drives me nuts when I’m working with pages sent to me by a client. I know it’s a default in QuarkXPress. My problem with filled text boxes is that the white fill hides the column guides. As a result, I occasionally lose touch (especially when I’m zoomed in to a small area on the page) with the details of my design. I keep all text boxes empty. It makes my work go much more quickly.
I AM AN UNABASHED FAN of Adobe InDesign. I don’t—and won’t—apologize for that. Every time Adobe updates InDesign, it offers new capabilities and I’m convinced that some of those upgrade functions come directly from Adobe listening closely to InDesign users. InDesign CS6, recently released, includes a function that’s a real time-saver. In many newsrooms, the design and pagination software is burdened with a bajillion fonts. Although designers may only use a dozen fonts or so for news design, they need to include all those fonts in their software because the fonts are placed in ads that are imported to the page. If they don’t have those fonts, the type in an ad may blow out. As a result, editors often have to scroll up-scroll down-scroll up-scroll down-scroll up-scroll down during pagination just to get to the fonts they need. InDesign CS6 comes to the rescue with a simple preference. You can set the number of recent fonts you want to display at the top of your fonts list. In the illustration above, I’ve set it at six. You can go as high as 50. Having all those fonts at the top means no more scrolling. What a bright idea! What a relief! Thanks, Adobe. A COMMENT from follower Emily Roberts:
IT’S A CARDINAL RULE of page design: “Don’t! Bump! Heads!” And the example above is a perfect picture of what happens with an unfortunate head bump. The headline really reads like this:
Arden Chaffee wins barroom brawl
Mayor of Year Award turns bloody
You can’t blame readers if they don’t see that these are really two headlines. The type size is similar, the number of lines is the same and the two heads run right into each other. The only difference—one that’s easy to miss—is that the barroom brawl headline is just…a…bit bolder than the Mayor Award head.
Some suggestions on how you can keep this from happening on your front page:
1. Keep the head on the left (Mayor Award) a bit short, to open more space between it and the head on the right.
2. Make the barroom brawl head three lines deep (or the Mayor Award only one line).
3. Adopt a style that calls for vertical rules between packages. Such a rule here would have kept readers from reading from one head right into the other.
4. Use clearly different sizes. 48 point for the Award, 30 point for the brawl, for example.
5. Use clearly different fonts. A lighter head for the Award story would have helped.
YOU’RE ALL READY to do the design for that special project. You’ve been part of the planning. You’ve gathered the photos and charts. You’ve decided on the headline style. You’ve even worked up a nifty style for pull quotes, subheads and labels. This design is gonna sing!!!!! Then…you get the story. Oooops. “I didn’t get the story I needed,” a designer recently told me. “So,” I asked, “what did you do?” “I punted. I did the best I could with what I got.” Sometimes, that’s what ya gotta do…the best you can with what you’ve got.