Fonts and Readability

Are You Choosing the Right Font for Readability?

Lady Reading MagazineLegibility and Readability are synonymous terms, but there is a bit of a difference. Legibility, can be defined as plainly discernible; apparent. It also means possible or easy to read, but more from a perception point of view. Readability, on the other hand, is defined as easy to read from a physical point of view.

So, what does that mean, exactly? Readability is all about making long blocks of text easy on the eyes. This can come in the form of font choice, line spacing (or leading), judicial use of white space, and line length. While readability is important in all forms of graphic design, it’s especially important to direct response packages and websites, where there is an abundance of copy and calls to action. Continue reading

White Space

Why Did You Get Rid of the White Space?

Marcel DuChamp Self Portrait in Profile

Marcel DuChamp “Self-portrait in profile” (1957)
Courtesy Philadelphia Museum of Art

Early manuscripts, which were hand-drawn, illuminated and hand-lettered, often had generous use of white space. Quite necessary, since these books were labor-intensive and took years, if not decades, to produce. The pleasing use of white space was both practical and economical.

Then came movable type. That changed the landscape completely. Paper was rather cheap, especially when compared to vellum and parchment. Although engravings were expensive to produce the first time, they could now be used over and over again. And brother, were they ever! Pictures became selling points. Where once only the wealthy could afford books with images, now printed books were mass-produced and were crammed full of images, borders, and type of all sizes. Continue reading

Rounded Corners

How to Round Corners in InDesign (prior to CS5)

For a contract job with a large local retailer, the Creative Director asked me to come up with ways to make the lives of the art directors a little easier. Part of the new branding requires a colored box with only one rounded corner. Also, the coupons need to have a Japanese dotted stroke with one rounded corner. In CS5 and up, this is no problem. All you need to do is draw a rectangle, select the corner you want to round, hold down the shift key (if you do not hold down the shift key, all the corners will round), then drag toward the center of the rectangle and voila! You now have a rectangle with one rounded corner. It’s not quite so simple in previous versions of InDesign. What do you do if your company hasn’t upgraded its Creative Suite software? Like most Adobe apps, InDesign has more than one way to skin that rounded corner cat! Let’s examine a couple, shall we? Continue reading

InDesign Easter Egg

Alien Easter Egg in InDesign

Friendly alien from InDesign waves to youFor those of you designers who are long in the tooth, you may remember the great Easter Egg in Quark Xpress. If you had a tough day and needed to add some humor to your workflow, you could select an object or text box that you wanted to delete. You pressed the keyboard shortcut Command + Shift + Option + k, (k for “kill”) and out marched a little Martian who would zap your selected item with his ray gun. Poof! Away went the offending text box or object and all was well! Unfortunately, the Martian is no longer with us. The killjoys at Quark XPress took him out. Come to think of it, Quark XPress is almost no longer with us! Coincidence? Who knows.  Continue reading

How To Make Printer Spreads in Quark XPress

How Do You Convert Facing Pages to Printer Spreads in Quark XPress?

printer spreads screenshot

Printer Spreads in the Pages panel

Admittedly, like most everyone else in the design world these days, I use InDesign. However, since my designing days pre-date InDesign, I am quite familiar with Quark XPress. Back in the day, I knew every keyboard shortcut and could use every tool in the Quark XPress arsenal. When I took my assessment test for Aquent (around the year 2000), my score was off the charts! I credit this knowledge to my time spent at The Charlotte Observer newspaper. Since we had daily deadlines, you needed to be knowledgeable and quick. Ah, but I digress yet again… Continue reading