Renée Tanner is a designer at the News-Review in Petoskey, Mich. A few years ago, Renée and I got to know each other well as we worked together on a redesign of the News-Review.
It was a delight working with Renée because she was bright, quick and ready to learn. The News-Review is a better newspaper because of Renée’s work and I’m happy to see that.
Renée also writes a column for the News-Review. A few weeks ago, she sent me a link to that column along with this note: “Hello Ed. I think you would appreciate my column this week, for you inspired much of it.”
What Renée wrote goes to the heart of how and why we do news design.
I asked Renée if I could share the column. She agreed.
Here’s what she said:
After almost 5 years of writing this column, I think it’s high time I wrote about what I do.
Most of my readers (otherwise known as family and friends) obviously know that I write a column. And if they read it all the way to the bottom, they’ll see the blurb that says, “Renée Tanner is a News-Review page designer …”
Yup. I design pages. I do graphic design as well. A chart, a map, an illustration of some sort. I enjoy creating things like this.
Making sense of any subject and then communicating it to you visually so you can make sense of it, too. That’s it. That’s what I do. And I love it.
Zoom in if you want to see how we designers go about this task. We use buzz words like the “rule of threes” and white space and kerning. We edit photos and pay attention to typography. There’s the lining up of headlines and bylines and manipulating text space, making cuts and tweaks. And on top of all of that, the page has to be technically correct so it will go to the press without a hitch.
It’s gotta be perfect. As perfect as we can get it. And it’s gotta be by deadline.
Some people say, “Oh you’re a designer so you get to be creative!” but it’s really not all about that. Painters are creative. Composers and writers. In my experience (and I’ve got 20 years of it) designing anything: an ad, a flyer, a business card, a website, is more about clear communication and functionality and less about picking a font and color.
If you can read and navigate a page without confusion, without struggling to figure out where to look first and without having to squint against crazy background colors and special effects, then I’ve done my job.
An excellent column … brief and to the point. Thanks, Renée!
WANT A FREE evaluation of your newspaper's design? Just contact Ed Henninger: email@example.com | (803) 327-3322
IF THIS COLUMN has been helpful, you may be interested in his books: "Henninger on Design" and "101 Henninger Helpful Hints." With the help of his books, you'll immediately have a better idea how to design for your readers. Find out more about "Henninger on Design" and "101 Henninger Helpful Hints" by visiting his website: www.henningerconsulting.com
ED HENNINGER is an independent newspaper consultant and the director of Henninger Consulting. He offers comprehensive newspaper design services including redesigns, workshops, staff training and evaluations. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. On the web: henningerconsulting.com. Phone: (803) 327-3322.