Field Notes: Furniture

1) Nameplate: The name of a newspaper as it’s displayed on Page One; also called a flag. My publication is The Guardian. It’s nameplate is interesting because it appears as one word in all lowercase letters. I think this helps the publication stand out against its competitors because many newspapers wouldn’t be bold enough to write their flag in all lowercase letters, as they may think it won’t create as much impact on the page. I think it creates more impact on the page because it’s something I don’t see very often. The word “the” is in light blue and the word “guardian” is in dark blue.” This works well for the design because it helps the reader distinguish between the two words, while still allowing The Guardian creative freedom in combining the two words to make their nameplate.

2) Teaser: An eye-catching graphic element, on Page One or section fronts, that promotes an item inside; also called a promo. The Guardian uses teasers all over the front page in the January 24, 2014 issue. First, there are teasers above the nameplate that are colorful (gray, red and blue), in a bold, thicker typeface and surrounded by blue stars. This helps those teasers stand out when you first look at the page. Then there are teasers right below the nameplate. These teasers include photos, a red and blue blocked out space to enclose all the teasers and design elements, words of different sizes and boldness and some bright yellow circles. This definitely helps those teasers stand out to let readers known what is inside, but I find it a bit overwhelming. It’s like the designers designed the page and kept adding more and more. I would have taken some of these elements away to make for a better reader experience. There are also some teasers that appear on the bottom of the front page. For example, this one had a photo of Justin Bieber and text about his arrest, prompting readers to page 22. This is a great teaser to put on the bottom of the page because Justin Bieber is a high-profile celebrity causing a lot of stir and this story would likely garner reader interest, leading readers to page 22.

3) Bylines and Credit lines: The reporter’s name, usually at the beginning of the story. The Guardian’s bylines are very typical of a newspaper. It has the reporter’s name enclosed between two rules at the onset of the story. This is good placement for the byline because it tells readers who wrote the story before they begin reading. However, it would have been nice to include each reporter’s job at the paper next to or underneath the name to establish more credibility of the reporter — not every reporter had this listed with their byline. It would have also been nice to have some sort of contact information near the byline so if readers have comments or questions for the reporter, they know how to contact that person with ease.

4) Wraps/Skews: Text that wraps around a photo or artwork; also called a wraparound or runaround. The Guardian utilized skews on page 9 of its January 25, 2014 issue for an article about “New Labour” in Parliament. The text wraps around photos of New Labour candidates. I think this is an effective use of skews because it creates an interesting design on the page, but also doesn’t take away from the reading experience. Sometimes when news outlets use skews, it becomes difficult to read the text because the text gets cut off by the photo, creating short, jagged lines of text. The Guardian, however, used skews effectively.

5) Box: A ruled border around a story or art. The Guardian uses boxes throughout its pages. In most uses, the box is around a photo. One example is a spread on pages 10 and 11 of its January 25, 2014  issue. The Guardian put a box around a photo, made the lines a bit thicker than usual and rounded the corners. This is effective use of a box because it helped the photo jump off the page, making it more interesting for the reader.

6) Drop caps: The first letter of a paragraph that is enlarged to “drop” down two or more lines.  The Guardian uses drop caps sparingly, which is a good thing because too much use of this element could lessen the impact of this design element or could make stories overwhelming. The Guardian uses an “O” in one story for a drop cap, which is good design because seeing a large “O” creates interest on a page. However, they kept the “O” very thin, which takes away from the impact of the drop cap. The design could have been improved by making the “O” slightly bolder.

7) Pull quotes: A graphic treatment of a quotation, often using bold or italic type, rules or screens.  Like drop caps, The Guardian uses pull quotes sparingly, and only when a quote is interesting and will draw a reader into the story text. The design of each pull quote varies. Some have brightly colored quotation marks around the text, others are more simple. The Guardian effectively chooses quotes that are entertaining to read. However, sometimes the design of the pull quote is boring or wasteful of space, like on page 11 where the quotation marks are small — from far away you can’t tell what the random block of text is there for — and this small block of text is above the story text with a ton of white space around it. The pull quote on page 11 looks very awkward, like the designer didn’t know what to do with the space. This could have been improved by making more efficient use of white space, for example, making the quote large enough to fill that space.

8) Rule: A printing term for a straight line. The Guardian uses rules consistently throughout its design. It uses rules to section off bylines, showing the reporter’s name is different from the story text below. It also uses rules to divide columns of text, which is an effective use of this design element because it helps readers distinguish between columns of text, creating a better reading experience.

9) Cutline: A line or block of type providing descriptive information about a photo. The Guardian uses cutlines with almost every photo. It’s usually simply a line of text beneath the photo. This is effective design because it is simple, the text of the cutline isn’t confused with other text on the page and the cutlines line up perfectly with the edges of the photos.

10) Jump lines and Continuation lines: Type telling the reader that a story continues on another page. The Guardian uses jump lines for their intended purpose: to tell readers where a story continues. Their jump lines contain a rule above the type that usually says “continues on page…” The jump line text is bold, which is effective because it draws your eye to it, and if you’re interested in reading more, you’ll know where to go. Also, The Guardian uses a double arrow to encourage readers to flip to the next page, which adds a unique touch to the design.


One Comment

  1. Great job analyzing the use of elements. I like that you go beyond description and into the why/how of it all. Keep that up, and you’ll do well on the field notes. That said, where are the examples? Please remember to always post a visual for the element/approach you’re discussing. It’s more efficient, gives greater context and leaves more time for analysis (rather than for description). If you choose to add images to this, let me know and I’ll adjust your grade. … A few other quick notes … 1.) bylines and credit lines are not just for writers. Photographers and graphic artists/illustrators also get them. : )

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