LXF65 magazine layout

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LXF65 magazine layout

Postby AndrewBallantine » Mon Apr 11, 2005 11:01 pm

Hi,

As a regular subscriber to your excellent magazine I found that, for some strange reason, I was becoming more and more irritated by issue LXF65. I thought this rather strange so attempted to analyse the problem.
Firstly I did notice a lot of new and fresh graphics. Nothing wrong with those quite the reverse. I did notice that the front cover now has page numbers on all the headlines, which I and many others really appreciate, except for the OpenOffice.org headline. So turning to the index on page 4 I see it's page 54, but, no, on page 5 it's page 57. OK, not the end of the world, but you could tighten up a bit.
However this was not the problem. The problem starts on page 10 then on pages 12, 36, but really starts in earnest on page 54 and continues to pop up on pages 76, 77,84 102.
Several years ago I read an article on the do's and don'ts of publishing.
Of the rules I remember there are:
Use a serif font for body text.
Don't use too many different fonts.
Don't put text over graphics.
I will agree that the non-serif font has become rather fashionable on the basis that it is different so it must be better. I became resigned to that after I purchased my first copy, LXFD23. Using too many fonts doesn't seem to be one of your sins. However text on graphics, which you do not usually indulge in, went completely mad for the OpenOffice 2.0 article. I think what really upset me was that I wanted to read this article above all others. The graphics are superb, the text is great, just please don't mix them together. I am sure there will be readers of this post who are wondering what the fuss is about. Well we don't all think alike, as any aficionado of presentations will tell you. In simple terms, some folks think in pictures while others think in words. If you're a thinker in words text over graphics won't bother you. If you're a picture thinker it drives you mad because you are constantly distracted by the picture in preference to the words. In really bad cases the text cannot be read for lack on contrast. I normally skip any article that is text over graphics. On this occasion I couldn't skip it because I really wanted to read it. I believe that most computer people are picture thinkers. It, sort of, goes with the territory.
Therefore you need to decide whether you want to produce a beautiful magazine that will grace any coffee table or whether you want people to read it. I vote for the latter. Please continue to produce great graphics and tremendous text and, by all means, have them together on the page, but just not on the same part of the page.
I look forward to reading your next issue.

Kind regards,

Andrew Ballantine.

(Re-printed from a previous email by the author)
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RE: LXF65 magazine layout

Postby JulianJefferson » Wed Apr 13, 2005 12:35 pm

Thanks Andrew for your comments.
Issue 65 was a very slight shift in direction for us - more emphasis on attractive looking (and written) content in the magazine. With the OpenOffice.org feature images this backfired a little due to a slight lack of caution on my part with the big background graphic on some of those pages, which in some cases was a little too strong and fought with the words. It was in no small part also due to working with uncalibrated equipment (ie monitor) and WYSIWYG - which wasn't in this case! As to the the do's and dont's of publishing - well, like anything else, they were probably adhered to and relevant last week but this week... Yes, serif fonts are said to be easier to read, but they may also set the wrong tone for a certain publication and it would get a bit predictable and tedious if everyone did the same thing. Text on graphics DOES work, regularly - just look at some other publications out there - it's just a matter of how. It's much less about whether you're a pictures or a words-thinking person and more about if there's a problem and the combination is wrong for some reason, then folk stop and wonder why they're struggling to read it. Then it's obviously overstepped the boundary.
'Tis a fine line we tread in trying to get the mix just right - we don't try to be a 'coffee-table' mag as such, but if LXF didn't look good at all, we couldn't compete on the news stand and people wouldn't bother to pick it up or browse it and that would be to the detriment of our talented writers who would be wasting their finely-crafted words.
We do value reader comments - and listen - and we constantly strive to produce a great mag, but we are human and just occasionally...
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Re: RE: LXF65 magazine layout

Postby Marrea » Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:01 pm

JulianJefferson wrote: Text on graphics DOES work, regularly - just look at some other publications out there.


Nope, text on graphics does NOT work. I've lost count of the number of articles I would like to read in mags that I have just skipped over because of this. Another sin is small white font on a black background. Absolutely awful and totally unreadable.

'Tis a fine line we tread in trying to get the mix just right - we don't try to be a 'coffee-table' mag as such, but if LXF didn't look good at all, we couldn't compete on the news stand and people wouldn't bother to pick it up or browse it.


Oh yes, they would. People go for the title of a magazine, not necessarily what it looks like.

While I'm here, by the way, my main complaint about LXF is that the fonts are so small. I'm one of your slightly older readers and my poor peepers find it quite tiring poring over your print at times !!

But the content is usually great. No complaints on that score. :P
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RE: Re: RE: LXF65 magazine layout

Postby towy71 » Thu Apr 14, 2005 4:08 pm

I think you might have a better time if you went and got some reading glasses, 'cos I can just about make out the writing with mine and I'm still not quite on a zimmer frame, just ;) :lol:
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Postby Marrea » Thu Apr 14, 2005 8:25 pm

Well I suppose it might help if I didn't try to read my LXF late at night when I get home after staring at a computer screen all day long ! :shock:
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Postby skecs » Fri Apr 22, 2005 9:56 am

The use of sans-serif and serif fonts has changed drastically over the last 10 years - blame the Internet for this. It used to be taught that serif fonts were easier to read on paper and sans-serif were used for screens (unless monospaced type was used).

The differences now seem to be disregarded with Helvetica/Arial/Verdana being the most commonly used fonts for nearly everything. The magazine does do the one important thing with sans-serif and that is to increase the leading - horizontal spacing between lines from old printers putting lead strips in the presses - to about 1.5 the font size. This is also a good idea on screens - very easy with CSS - it makes it easier for the eye to follow a line and return to the next line.

However in the excellent Firefox article in LXF66 the background killed the easy to read bit - very trendy Mac OS X style grey lines but the line spacing was "out" when compared to the text.

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Postby guy » Fri Apr 22, 2005 7:03 pm

Use a serif font for body text.
Don't use too many different fonts.
Don't put text over graphics.

These are a good starting-point for the inexperienced. But when it comes to the stylish professional, rules are made to be broken.

There are some pretty readable sans fonts around nowadays, and we are more used to them than we were. The old problems of breakup due to narrow i's and l's with blank patches round j's, o's and r's, and overlapping A's and W's, are hardly apparent in the better ones.

Using lots of fonts gives a particular effect which can sometimes chime in with the feel of a particular look, if that makes sense. A knowledge of their family histories is useful if you want a coherent whole - who designed them, when, and especially why they did it that way.

Text over graphics needs to take into account a lot of complicated perceptual rules about hue, lightness, intensity, contrast, stroke width and length, the horrendous variability in print process quality - oh yes, and monitor calibration :roll:

my main complaint about LXF is that the fonts are so small. I'm one of your slightly older readers and my poor peepers find it quite tiring poring over your print at times !!

Same here. Too-small print damages eyesight in the long term, and magnifying lenses are a right pain. The big organizations I work for typically insist on 10 or 12 pt as a minimum, down to 8 pt for annotations. What really matter are things like the body size (height of letters like acemnors...), its ratio to the overall line spacing, and the stroke width.
For example, look at the KDE vs GNOME desktop duel in 66. The bold stuff is far more legible than the weedy bits in between, despite being the same size. Now compare it with the squashed-up screenshot caption on page 56. Those are the same typeface and the same font size!

Trouble with magazines is, small type gets the content onto fewer pages, reducing print and distribution costs. Personally, I would like to see laws, or at least British Standards, defining the minimum body size and line spacing in various situations. After all, they do it with road signs, why not every situation which affects our health?
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Postby skecs » Sun Apr 24, 2005 8:42 am

The point size of fonts is really the bit I missed out - thanks Guy!

In Australia we are used to 12 pt Times New Roman or equivalent when using a word processor (M$ Office, OpenOffice.org, etc) and this 12pt size carries over to Arial on screen - the US standard is 10 pt for both of these. The more information crammed in the more important theory!

If 12 pt is used for documents and the contrast between font and background is appropriate then most people have no problems reading the page. The font sizes used for the Linux Format site seem to be between 10 & 12 pixels which at 1024 x 768 on a 17" monitor is roughly equivalent to the 10 - 12 pt sizes I mention before.

I agree an ISO standard would make sense for accessibility and readability for everyone.
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Postby donoreo » Tue Apr 26, 2005 3:02 pm

I have to agree with the "no text over graphics" rule. Now, there are exceptions like a small block of text, but too much and I tend to skip the article as well. No problem with my eyes here for reading.
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