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Publication Design Standards (continues from previous)

Nameplates & Banners

The Nameplate or Banner refers to the title area on the front page. It's sometimes called the flag. We often hear it called the masthead, but in publication terminology, the masthead is the staff credit box found elsewhere in the publication.
      Designing the banner depends on two primary rules: it must be distinctive, and it must portray or "suggest" the nature of the content to be found within.
      Newsletter design may differ slightly from magazine or newspaper banners. In newsletters, the reader is usually a subscriber. Where magazines must have a certain amount of news-stand appeal, newsletters usually don't.
      A second consideration should be the area where the banner resides. This "spatial divider" can be a box, screen tint block, or color band that defines the banner space but usually "white" space is best. The location and size should not change. At right we see the cover for our example publication today, Parade Magazine. The color may change from issue to issue, but the banner position never changes. Note how it's designed with space above for the local newspaper to strip in their own banner marking.
      When designing the nameplate -- take your time, and experiment with many different arrangements. This is one of the most important graphic areas of the publication because it's the first thing a new reader connects with. It should be designed with care. If you're not up to the challenge, by all means hire a professional designer.
      Note we go into a lot more detail in the previous Newsletter Makeover Clinic

The Style Sheet

The typography you use in your publication will ultimately control it's readability, and believe it or not popularity. If a reader finds your publication 'hard' to read, they won't stay long.
      Generally speaking, most editorially based publications will run 60% to 85% text coverage. Less is better. The text needs to be readable at all times, but readability is particularly important where there's 75% and more text coverage.
      Never set body type smaller than 9 point. The older your audience is, the bigger the body type should be. In the same regard, body text should seldom be larger than 11 point unless your audience is over 65 years old. Design with 9, 10, or 11 point, and always provide a minimum of 20% leading. (Multiply the point size by 1.20 for the leading factor.) You can make it slightly more, but less is not recommended. The wider the column, or the more dense the type, the more leading you need. If your line lengths go beyond 45 characters, make your leading factor at 25%. Always maintain the same size text for all your articles. The only time you break from that rule are for special editorial departments you wish to set apart from the rest of the publication's content. If an article doesn't fit in one size, do not change the size of the type to fit it. Edit the story back, or let it take over more space.
      Use no more than three faces for the working type. That's one for body type, a second for headlines, and a third for "overhead" or "special use." You can successfully design with only one type family -- by using various sizes, weights and postures to differentiate the usage.
      When designing the typographic dress, and selecting the fonts to be used, think long and hard about the image you want to portray. You can create a friendly, informal look or a conservative, more formal image -- all in the way you use typography. Remember that serif fonts are regarded as best for running text. And also keep in mind that for display type like heads or department slugs, a sans serif style subliminally suggests "inorganic" content, and serif faces subliminally suggest "organic" content.

Graphic Styling

Graphic Styling refers to the overall "look and feel" the publication takes on because of the way art, photography and graphics are handled. This is what makes you stand out in the crowd.
      Graphic styling takes on two parts: overhead and editorial. Overhead graphics are all those which remain in place on most pages, and through every issue. Editorial graphics are all those which pertain specifically to the editorial. You have a latitude of flexibility with editorial graphics but NOT with overhead graphics.
      Overhead graphics should be carefully thought out, and use with restraint and consistency. Graphic devices which delineate the publication should be used consistently throughout the publication. Rules, borders, drop caps, department slugs, folios and other repeating devices should be carefully designed to "control" the flow, help the reader, but not disturb the reading process.
Next: See some of these in action...
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