Monday, January 19, 2015

Do they proof-read news graphics?

It's surprisingly common to see news graphics where the numbers don't match the chart lines.

I think the first example is just incompetence - or possibly the omission of a white vertical line to indicate the zero point for the data.

The second one looks like a cut and paste error. If you add up the percentages they come to 118% for 2015. But if you change the UKIP captions to read 13% and 18% everything adds up and the lines are the right length.

Picture credits: The Times.

New legibility test - just turn it upside down

I stared at this pen for a long time trying to decipher the brand name – but I had no problem reading the words KING SIZE.

Turn it the right way around and it's the familiar Sharpies brand. Have I just developed a new legibility test?

In my early career at the Open University I used multiple photocopying passes to show how some typefaces degrade more quickly than others - try it with Arial vs Bodoni and you'll see what I mean, although it worked better before photocopiers went digital.

You can also compare how easy it is to read typefaces through multiple layers of tracing paper. My business partner David Lewis used the term Strudel Test for this - following his mother's measure of when strudel pastry was thin enough (can you read a newspaper through it?).

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Exemplary caption from Time magazine

A December article on Starbucks had this exemplary caption. It's important to know which day in June it was that Getty Images captured this unique moment.

I'd like to see this level of journalistic integrity adopted for all the library shots that adorn today's quality papers.

For example:

Who are these people? Why are they on the beach? When exactly did this happen?

Picture editing at its finest

Another magnificently baffling picture choice, this time from the Independent.

Guardian colour code fail

Like a lot of blokes, I'm slightly red-green colourblind.

It hardly manifests itself in everyday life. I find it difficult to see when the amber light has turned to yellow-green on my Apple wifi router. And I'm slower at picking raspberries than other people. I can see the red fruit and the green leaves, but they're tonally similar and obviously shine brighter for others.

And now I can't read the Guardian's football page. The little bars are coded green, red or grey to show each team's run of form. Actually I suspect a lot of people will have trouble picking out these lines.

Designers please note: key distinctions should not be made in small areas of red and green.