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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State of the Union 2011

We all know the economy is suffering. But, Obama remained optimistic about innovation and reform in his State of the Union Adress.

For those of you who missed the speech, here’s the Reader’s Digest version

In my words…

“This is our generation’s Sputnik moment.”

Obama calls for innovation through education reform, energy conservation and national deficit reduction.

And in theirs…

“State of the Union is better; state of Obama is strong.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution

“Forward together, or not at all.”

The Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Obama Ushers in Era of Divided Government With Appeal”

The San Francisco Chronicle

The Times-Dispatch has the best headline in my opinion, because it expresses the message of the address, not just a vague opinion about how it went (*cough AJC *cough). The direct quote is always a nice, effective way to draw in the reader, offering context without specificity, which makes the reader curious. The Chronicle’s nonsense about an era of divided government only appeals to people truly interested in the politics of Obama’s speech, not his emotion, not his desire to regain the trust of the people and move forward as a country. Plus, when has the government not been divided? Also, the AJC article was an editorial, and reflected one reporter’s opinion on the story, which may be interesting, but only in conjunction with an objective article of the speech. I couldn’t find a full text of the address on the site.

Want more than the RD version? Check out “the scoop” for Obama’s main points or click on the blue links above.


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The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

El Economista (Madrid)

A tri-color design with character and variety. The nameplate is at the top and easily visible. The skyboxes are interesting teasers, but not distracting. Excellent use of white space and large typography. The infographic serves the function of text with the appeal of picture. The 5-column-design provides room to say a lot without getting too narrow or text heavy.

The Wall Street Journal (NY)

Too much black text. A boxy, vertical design, particularly with the mile-long columns on the left. All stories are given equal importance with size and typography. Without reading context, I dont know to which story the picture belongs (the one on the left? Below?) The nameplate is dull, though the serifs make it easy to read.

The New York Post Online (NY)

A hot mess of colorful ads with little text. There are no bits of stories, only links to news (right next to gossip). Undies is the first word I see, which doesn't bode well for the reputation of the paper. My eyes keep wandering, distracted. The page is not informative. I find myself unable to take the NY Post seriously.

What do you think?

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