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Intelligent Solution: NEWSLETTER

STEP 1: Problem As Described by Client

“We are an academic research institution and want to publish a new semi-annual newsletter/magazine. Our target audience will be public and private policy makers, the academic community, and current and potential donor foundations. The newsletter would be dense with text and contain serious articles about our research and other activities. We need a logo, masthead, and other visual identity elements, and are open to suggestion regarding all aspects of design and layout. We can print it commercially, but our budget is limited.”

“Our editor will submit computer files and hard-copy printouts of the articles, ready for typeseting, as well as photographs to accompany some of them” [as below:]

newsletter materials

[For a sneak preview, hover over or tap the picture above]

Continue reading for the MetaGlyfix analysis and solution:

▲ STEP 2: ANALYSIS by MetaGlyfix

  1. The newsletter/magazine should have a conservative look to correspond to the serious subjects and tone of the articles for the intended readership.
  2. All aspects of visual interest — color, logos, visual motifs, typography — will be original, but must be employed to enhance — not distract from — the articles and information.
  3. Number of pages will be limited to twenty-four to keep printing costs within budget and to facilitate mailing.
  4. High ratio of text to available page space will mean:
    1. Fairly small typeface required to fit in all the articles and photographs.
    2. Margins and aesthetic white space may be limited.
    3. Means of creating visual interest will be limited and constrained.
    4. Distinguishing one section or article from another will be challenging.
  5. The client should select a commercial printer early on so that MetaGlyfix can ensure that the newsletter complies with the printer’s technical specifications and that it can be printed and distributed on schedule and within budget.
hardcopy text

[Above: text content as submitted by the client.]

▲ STEP 3: SOLUTION by MetaGlyfix

The client’s institution does not have a logo, so MetaGlyfix creates a masthead-logotype combination in two colors (i.e., black and a spot color selected by the client). The logotype is designed of graphic motifs that will appear thematiclly elsewhere in the new publication, as will be seen in subsequent steps.

(above: masthead/logotype, 67% scale)

MetaGlyfix next constructs an underlying three-column layout for the articles and selects a somewhat formal serif typeface, Caslon. Column width, font size, and line spacing are balanced to allow a maximum amount of text in attractive, readable pages. A modern-looking sans-serif font, Formata, will provide contrast in headings, lists, sidebars, page numbers, and the like.

page fragment

(above: structure of typical page, 67% scale)

This grid and the consistent typeface for text will help unify the publication, but some special sections or features (front and back covers, lists, etc.) will need to vary from it. Content and function are always first considerations.

MetaGlyfix lays out a prototype front page using the new masthead/logotype, a narrow table of contents, a wider two-column lead story, and the beginning of a second featured story. A prototype back page is divided into three rectangles: a copyright section, a recurring list of the institution’s affiliates, and an unambiguous area for mailing information. Within each of these sections of the two covers, column width, font, and spacing must be balanced for legibility and function. The spot color, sometimes screened (that is, in lighter shades) as a background, helps distinguish these functional sections, which will remain similar from issue to issue.

front & back covers

(above: prototype front and back covers, 25% scale)

After the client approves the blue spot color and the prototype designs, the last decision before proceeding is choosing a commercial printer. MetaGlyfix assists the client in obtaining bids, and thereafter consults with the selected firm to make sure that the design is feasible within budget and schedule.

▲ STEP 4: ILLUSTRATIONS: Photographs and Original Graphics


Several of the articles will be illustrated by photographs supplied by the client. MetaGlyfix must examine and prepare client photographs early in the design stage. Photos are measured, cleaned, scanned, resized, and adjusted for contrast and sharpness. They are also tentatively cropped at this time for use in drafts and early proofs. Their eventual size and cropping will not be determined until the final step of production, when all elements are put in place.

some of the photos

Original Graphics

Meanwhile, MetaGlyfix designs custom graphic elements for the newsletter’s recurring sections and for some of the one-time articles …

For a recurring section called “Briefs,” MetaGlyfix creates a miniature masthead that picks up motifs from the front-page logotype …

… plus compatible column-width dividers to separate the relative short articles in the feature …

Briefs logo

(above: miniature “masthead,” at full scale.
below: article divider, at full scale.)

Briefs divider

For a recurring section titled “Viewpoints,” MetaGlyfix creates a 3-dimensional compass in the newsletter’s colors. The section’s title circles the compass face on the outside. The points of the compass are the client institution’s acronym, I - S - P - S …

ISPS compass

(above: ISPS compass, at full scale.
Tap or click the graphic to view the two-page spread in PDF format, in new window)

A “Letters to the Editor” section has its own custom logo, shown here as laid out and printed on a screened blue background in the newsletter (displayed at 2/3 scale) …

Letters fragment

Other illustrations are created or adapted anew for individual articles, such as this faint city skyline behind an article on “The City Room …”

City Room page

(above: one-page article, at 25% scale.
Tap or click the graphic to view this page at full size in PDF format, in new window)

▲ STEP 5: TYPOGRAPHY: Designing with Text

MetaGlyfix employs typography itself as a critical element of design to both unify and differentiate articles and features.

But first the text must be prepared for typesetting. MetaGlyfix strips out word-processing styles and formats, eliminates stray characters and spaces, regularizes punctuation, capitalization, and emphasis according to established guidelines of usage and typography, and applies the styles designed for this publication.

(For advice on how clients can maximize the efficiency and accuracy of this process, see the Guidelines for Submitting Materials and Manuscripts and the Top Ten Tips.)

From article to article, uniform Caslon body text is relieved by:

  • sub-heads in the contrasting sans-serif font, Formata
  • the author’s name reversed out of the blue spot color
  • titles or headlines in variant combinations of the font faces and colors.

Sometimes the opening lines of an article are set carefully in a larger font size that flows gradually from the headline or title into the smaller body text.

Sometimes the opening lines span one column, sometimes more than one.

Titles and headlines are allowed latitude to complement the subject and content of the articles. They may vary in typeface, size, color, and spacing, as well as in number of columns spanned.

fragment of an article opening

(above: fragment at 2/3 scale)

The conservative blue spot color helps imprint a serious, coherent identity throughout, as with, for example:

  • thin rules (straight lines) that delineate the margins and columns on each page
  • the expressed page number (in Formata) at the top of each page
  • occasional pull-quotes that straddle the column rule with larger Caslon italics

page fragment showing rules

(above: fragment at 2/3 scale)

or the question in question-and-answer articles:

another page fragment showing rules

(above: fragment at 2/3 scale)

Meanwhile, the top of each page expresses the page number and header in color and font motifs derived from the masthead/logotype:

motifs and page numbers in running heads

MetaGlyfix develops the textual layout — color, structure, motifs — according to the principles described in Step 3, like variations on a theme.

And like any artful theme and variations, some variations are — well — just exceptions dictated by their subjects, as with this two-page spread for an article about opposing opinions on the politics of New Haven …

2-page spread of New Haven politics article

(above: spread at 25% scale. Tap or click the graphic to view the full spread in PDF format, in new window.
Below, opening text forms a bell curve.)

… or opening lines set in the shape of a bell-curve in this article about Charles Murray’s controversial bell-curve theory.

▲ STEP 6: PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER: Theme and Variations


The framework for the front and back covers was established in Step 3. Now the actual text — lists, titles, opening articles, etc. — that was cleaned and prepared in Step 5, is placed in this framework. Dummy page numbers are temporarily inserted in the table of contents …

front and back covers

Inside Pages

Next, the remaining articles and features are roughly laid out in the inside pages. MetaGlyfix pays careful attention to the content of the articles so that their order and arrangement make sense.

The new graphics and scanned photos (from Step 4) are put in place, then the text (prepared in Step 5) is “poured” in, filling up the columns and the spaces around them.

three spreads, overlapping

MetaGlyfix applies …
  • the typographic principles established in Step 5,
  • with the graphic motifs created in Step 4,
  • to the aesthetic structure established in Step 3 …

… page after page, article after article, as with the elements of the “Briefs” section we saw built earlier …

Two-page spread from Briefs section

(above: a two-page spread from the Briefs section, at 25% scale.
Tap or click the graphic to view each layout at full size in PDF format [848K].)

… or the ISPS compass designed for the “Viewpoints” section as seen in the finished two-page spread …

Viewpoints, two-page spread

(above: two-page spread of “Viewpoints” article, at 25% scale.
Tap or click the graphic to view the full spread in PDF format, in a new window.)

The designer works to display each item at its best. This generally means a new page for each major article, and the fitting of each article (where possible) either onto a single page or onto two-page spreads …

Where possible, jump pages are avoided.

single page with complete articles

Calendars, lists, and supporting information (on blue screened background) are worked logically around the main article layouts.

At the end, the photographs are given their final resizing and cropping.

spread of pages 6 and 7

Variations on a theme

Like variations on a theme, each article, each feature, is displayed in a unique way, while successively they constitute a coherent opus. MetaGlyfix massages all the elements until they are right.

five pages, overlapping

Finally, the actual page numbers are put into the table of contents, and laser proofs are printed for the client.

The client makes a few last-minute changes to the text, and new proofs are printed. After the client approves the changes, MetaGlyfix prepares the electronic files and color separation files and proofs for the printer. The printer sets up the job and prints press proofs. When they are approved by the client, the printer prints, collates, folds, and staples the job.

The new ISPS Report is off the press and ready to mail.

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Last updated 25 August 2019 (Sunday) at 20:51:39 UTC