MICHELLE OFFERS us her first submission for review and comment. Michelle and I exchanged emails about the lack of rules on the page and, well..read on.
FROM MICHELLE: I’ve been following the blog for a while, and trying to implement some of your suggestions. I don’t get a whole page to work with very often, and I have no design training other than what I’ve picked up from you. One of my limitations is that I’ve been told not to use any dividing lines. Here’s an Autumn Section cover I put together recently. I’m guessing I should have more variety in the headline sizes. Any other implementable tips for a design newbie? We use InDesign, but I don’t yet have the InDesign skills of most of the talented folks who submit pages to you.
ED’S RESPONSE TO MICHELLE’S NOTE: I’m curious: Why have you been told not do use dividing lines? What’s the rationale behind that? I think that’s something to be addressed in my comments. And, yes, I know that sometimes the answer is “…because he/she is the boss!”
AND…MICHELLE’S REPLY TO ED: Besides your most obvious (and totally correct) reason, the explanation that I was given is that they just “junk up the page” and white space is more appealing, and that the headlines serve adequately to separate the stories…
ED’S THOUGHTS ON THE PAGE: There’s a lot to talk about here, but let’s start with some comments about the rules:
1. I believe rules between packages are essential. They do not just “junk up the page.” Rather, they help readers to distinguish between packages on the page. Yes, white space (I prefer the term “negative space” for space that is deliberately placed into a design) is more appealing but part of using rules between packages means placing negative space adjacent to or above/below the rules. So, you get both: rules and negative space.
2. You’re right about the headline sizes being too similar.
3. Another problem with the headlines is that they are all Palatino Bold. And…Palatino isn’t very good as a headline typeface. It’s been overused. Let’s look for something classier and more contemporary. You’re also using Palatino for text and I know you can do much better with other typefaces there, too.
4. More space is needed between packages all around.
5. If this is a feature front, it needs fewer but larger photos and a better focus. I’d start with fewer stories. This is crammed. Let’s restart…from scratch…and give this a much more feature look.
6. It’s hard to find the beginning of the studio tour story. A drop cap would have helped.
I’m sure others have comments that will help. Let’s see what they have to say.