Legibility = Likeability

The Tuscaloosa News staff has an eye for design…

When writing works well:

The fonts used on this page are similar, with the main variation being heaviness of type (the main headline is boldest). The most important headline is sans serif, so it is distinguishable from the nameplate and highlights the heirarchy of the news. The other headlines are all done with serifs, but the font is similar to the sans serif font, so it isn’t distracting. The tracking is perfect, and I have no trouble reading the words. I also enjoy the typographical symmetry of the left and right. The INSIDE stories stand out well in all caps, using those extra stories to draw in more readers. The red words at the top of the page are a little big, especially since the color makes these words stand out already, but I like that the red in the headline is pulled from the red of the player’s jersey. The main headline needs to be bigger, something more like a 48 point font, but the type family works well, I think. It’s simple. And this is the only paper that used typography with a natural flow, decreasing down the page.

But these papers missed the bull’s-eye…

For fool-proof font flubs:


I don’t know who let this print. Letters are overlapping other letters all across the page (even in the nameplate)! The kerning has clearly been altered too much, sacrificing legibility. Also, I think the swimming headline is a good size, but it looks strange because every other headline on the page appears to be the exact same size. All fonts are serifed (is this a word?), which creates a dull look and only makes the problem with kerning worse. They are also all bold. If the news staff wanted to use that font so badly, they should have used various forms, like condensed, (though they have enough of that going on), italic, bold, light, etc. The subhead is also too small for my taste. Being the only one, it needs to shine on the page, not fade into the woodwork. If you want a paper to crash and burn, use typography like this.

Testament to terrible typography:

The typography here may not be as bad as that of the Rockdale Citizen, but it’s worth mentioning in the same category. The headline about Beshear looks ridiculous with that much leading. The white space is just awkward while reading. As we saw with the others, this paper hasn’t chosen headline sizes well. I assume the main story is the board discussing nutrition, but honestly, do I know? No, because every story has a similarly sized headline. Where is the heirarchy? And where is the variety? Every headline is in that same sans serif font. Sure, it’s legible, but if the headlines can’t interest me, I’m not going to read them. The caption also might have been better in an italic font, not bold, like everything else on the page. Or maybe not in the same size font as the stories. It is too similar to the font on the rest of the page. I like captions to assert themselves as such — same with headlines. While on the topic of obnoxious fonts, I also dislike the nameplate. From far away, I wouldn’t be able to read the name with all those fancy, curling letters. If I were walking down the street in a hurry, I would buy the most quickly recognizable paper (not this one).

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