This year our student newspaper, The Lion's Tale, had a total redesign. We are looking for some feed back on the new designs. We just finished our first issue of the 2010 - 2011 school year. If you visit www.issuu.com/thelionstale you will find PDFs of this years first issue as well as all the issues from last year. Let us know what you think! All comments & suggestions are really appreciated.

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Thanks for sharing this. Nice work!
I love that you decided to take your paper down the tab route. On the business side it can help save with printing costs and on the design side it allows you some great spaces to use magazine like treatments (not to sound like an insult to traditional broadsheet or anything like that).

Overall I think the work shown in the latest edition shows a lot of imagination and ideas. I would concentrate on refining these ideas and editing them down — this will help add cohesiveness to your pages and make everything feel like it all belongs in the same paper and keep things a bit cleaner and easier to follow.

I think your cover, the features page (pg 12), reviewed (pg 22) and "The Social Network" page (pg 23) are my favorites. While I did find the headline treatment on the features page a bit overly complicated, these inside pages are well organized and strike a strong balance between function and utility. I think the cover is fun, attention grabbing (largely due to the bright color) and straight forward.

Here are a few things I would suggest:

• Find a column width that fits the paper well and corresponds with your advertisement sizing requirements. Keeping to a 4 (or maybe 5) column grid throughout the paper will immediately elevate the publication to feel more professional and consistent.

• Simplify some of your headline treatments. Yeah, obviously we want all of our pages to be portfolio worthy, but keeping some of your headlines more straightforward will A) give you more time to focus on special project pages B) save you time fidgeting/fussing/tweaking all of those headlines and C) help emphasize which stories you want to highlight — with too many fancy treatments, pages can feel a bit chaotic and potentially even confuse some readers.

• Use white space to your advantage. Jamming all of your type elements, boxes and photos so close together can make a page feel really heavy and gray. Some well-used white space will help keep things easy-to-read and make huge story blocks feel less intimidating and blocky.

• Use color with a purpose. Some of the pages in the paper that had colored elements appeared to have color for no reason (except for the fact that your printer gave you those pages as color positions). I would suggest plotting out which pages you're getting color on and make sure content that needs/deserves it lands on those pages. Color choice is also something to keep in mind — too many seemingly random color choices can make a page seem haphazard, sloppy and can drive the eye crazy.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Keep working hard, refining and self-editing your work — experience is the best way to learn.

Thanks for sharing — I'll be looking forward to seeing some more of your work!
Thanks a lot Timothy for that response! I really appreciate your advice & will definitely be taking it in to considerations for next edition. I'll let you know once we get the second edition out so you can check it out.
I personally am not a fan of newspaper tabs. My impression is that it's very difficult to pull off well, and I'm not sure I even like professional ones like the Chicago Sun-Times, so forgive me if I end up sounding too critical.

Overall, I think the easiest trap you fell in was overdesigning. The best thing about tabs is that you get to make an awesome cover page, but after that, it gets a little crazy. Because there are so many small pages, it's tempting to make each one stand out, but when every page competes for attention, it becomes rather convoluted. Every story has some kind of graphic with it, which is great planning, but also overwhelming. You might want to do more picking and choosing with what you bring to attention.

Some finer points:

Your section fronts get lost. For example, on p. 2-3, "One-on-One" dominates the spread and it distracts from the fact that News actually started on the previous page. Which one is your lead story? Readers shouldn't have to ask that. It might also be because you only make use of one headline font, which happens to be the same as your section headers, and your subheads. I usually see H.S. papers with way too many fonts, so props for standardizing it, but somehow this doesn't quite work for me either. It might be the sizing, so pay attention to how you size fonts in relation to what's nearby.

I think the fact that there's only one story per page bothers me, although I'm not sure if that's typical for tab papers. There isn't really anything leading readers on to the rest of your paper, it's all very self-contained. You might want to try teasing stories on your section fronts or designating jump pages.

I am a proponent of white space. Too much text intimidates readers, and some breathing room usually injects a little more class to the overall feel. I'd probably bring everything down from the top, at the very least. I'd also standardize your margins and columns, thin the stroke, and tone the color usage down. I'm curious, how did those colors print? I know if it were my paper's printer, none of that text would've come out legible on those colored boxes. Color should be a complementing factor of a page, not a main feature.

Bottom line, I say all things in moderation. Ask yourself if something is necessary; will it add, or will it end up detracting from your paper? Really sit down and decide what you're going for, and it should come together. Good luck!


(One last thing: my BIGGEST pet peeve is seeing boxed text without proper margins. Make sure your text doesn't extend to the edges of those grey boxes!)
Thank you for your comment Emily, I've definitely been looking at keeping some of the pages a little more simple in the second issue. We are trying to come across with a cleaner look by using one font in different styles. But I do understand that some of our pages get lost because almost every piece of text has the same font, another thing we are going to work on. Our colors printed awesome, we had no problems at all with unreadable text. Although we print at a much lesser quantity than your paper, I assume. Thanks again for the comment!

Overall we are trying to upgrade our paper from the style we had for the past three years, Does anyone have an opinion on the overall style change from last year to this year? We are striving to compete at national levels with this paper & I want to make sure we are going on the path of better and not worse. (in reference to the past years)
I checked out NSPA and was surprised to see that most of their design finalists this year are tabs. It doesn't seem that colleges are following this trend as much as high schools are, so you guys are probably onto something there.

Now, I took a look at your last issue from last year, and I actually think your new paper looks like your old one -- condensed into a new size. I think if you really get at the heart of it, stylistically, it hasn't actually changed that much. I liked some of the things you brought in, like the reviews format, and the cover was well done, better than your old front pages. I also like the new pullquote format. But I think you're still using similar headline treatments, the same fonts, and big blocks of text. I don't think your new paper is worse, but I also don't think it's tremendously better. If you're aiming to compete in design, I'd take pride in your covers, cause you're on the right track there. But the inside pages need more reworking. If you want to compete overall, I'd focus on using design to highlight newsworthiness and define a style, both section to section and as a whole. I wish I could be more helpful, but I don't have much experience with tabs. And of course, it's only my opinion!
Just wanted to let everyone know we sent our second edition to press, you can view it here:
http://issuu.com/thelionstale/docs/issue2final

Our deadline for this paper was so short to begin with, it was pretty much hell trying to get this out. It was our "homecoming" edition which means a lot of advertisers buy ads for this edition. We are supposed to get it out before/during the week of homecoming but couldn't push the staff hard enough to get it done. This year we have a lot of new staff members & while the first edition was tough, I thought as we progressed into the second some people would learn and start to step up. Unfortunately that wasn't the case and a lot of things got done last minute.

I really tried to set aside some pages that I identified as needing to be "simple", as I learned from the first edition some of the pages were over designed. I feel like some of the pages though are way too simple, as in page 3 & 5. Also I was attempting to implement another font family to use for headlines but honestly it would have been a hard concept to get other staff members to understand & use correctly. Therefore we stuck with Gill Sans for all headlines, style, etc. but I did try to pay attention to font size & weight to help with everything not blending together. I'd really appreciate some more feedback for our second try, I feel like we've advanced a little but I sill need your guys help! haha. :)
Hi Carson,

I think there are some major improvements from the last edition, but I'm still seeing some remaining issues mentioned in my earlier posts.

I think the cover is really strong. I feel that the bar for the teasers is a little unnecessary, but it doesn't do much to hurt the cover either.

There are still a lot of pages with a bit too much going on but I think you've calmed things down substantially from before. Try to explain to your staff the importance of the idea that sometimes less is more (sorry for the over-used cliché) and to please, please, please incorporate some more white space — those headlines between your photos and stories are still quite crowded and packed in there.

For the most part I also like the layout of the elements on that cyber bullying spread but be careful when using a lot of reversed small type. White on black/color swatch headlines and larger text elements are usually fine, but often you'll run into A) reproduction problems from your press or B) readability issues when running an entire story with such styling.

Last, but certainly not least, take those strokes (borders/outlines) off of your photos. Generally they're not needed and they have a tendency to date the look of a page.

Good luck! I'll look forward to issue 3!
This upcoming edition I will really push to have pages with more white space, I agree with you 100%. On the cyberbullying spread we were worried about the white text but when it was all black the spread looked weird. We are thankful that it came out readable though, it was definitely a risk. I will mention taking borders off photos but I have a feeling we won't be able to. We produce 8 (maybe only 7 if we can't make deadlines) papers in one year so with 2 already done changing style like that might be frowned upon when sending our paper to be judged. Thank you for great feedback once again, it has helped a lot already!

Issue 3 is finished and printer. I wouldn't say this was the best layout issue wise, everything was thrown together in a short amount of time but I think it came out alright.

 

http://issuu.com/thelionstale/docs/issue3final

 

Next deadline isn't until mid January - definitely thankful for the long break.

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