One of the best designed daily in the world Gulf News on June 1st 2012 changed its format from Broadsheet to Berliner.From the designers point of view which is most challenging?
Well-known design consultants/designers shared their thoughts exclusively for www.newspaperdesign.ning.com
Like in any change of format, just making sure that proportions, balance, space and distance between elements, the grid, are paid careful attention to.Readers read broadsheet pages from top to bottom, a sort of diagonal movement, while the Berliner, like the tabloid, is more likely to be read as double page spreads, which means the eye movement is sweeping motions from left to right. Designers must pay attention to this.
German Design Consultant and Trainer
Every format has its unique challenges. I consider Berliner Format as a combination of tabloid and broadsheet. It is still pretty small but it can be handled and read like a big format. You can make great double-page layouts, but you are still able to separate the sections and design great section fronts. One thing you cannot do in tabloid size. So in terms of design, it is my favorite format. Since Berliner Format has been a classic format in my country (I guess the name says all) I had the opportunity to redesign many papers in this size.
– Do not stick to broadsheet page layout when thinking in Berliner format.
– When switching from any bigger size to this small size, rethinking and restructuring of the content is the biggest challenge. In most cases this also goes along with a more horizontal design.
– Try to be bold and go over two pages like in a tabloid.
– Create section fronts that look like a magazine and feel like a newspaper
The change in format is not the challenge. The challenge comes from rethinking the content to fit the new format. You cannot simply squeeze a broadsheet into a berliner or a tabloid. Rethinking and reorganizing the content must come first. Fitting it into the new format will then be a relatively easier task. I love the Berliner format, it is divided into sections just like the broadsheet minus the extra tall pages.
The big canvas of a broadsheet can't be beat for powerful poster-like design. On the other hand, as web widths decrease and pages get narrower, it gets more challenging to design cohesive pages. Consequently, the bottoms of some broadsheet pages can look neglected and unimportant.
The smaller size of a Berliner or other compact paper seems to make every part of a page more valuable. Also having fewer elements on a smaller page would tend to make hierarchy and organization a bit easier.
Ad stacks in American broadsheets can make good inside page design seem fairly hopeless. If compact papers can offer more a modular ad layout, there is a lot better chance to offer a clean, well-designed reader experience.
More challenging? On the surface, my guess would be broadsheet. But when you consider one's experience, the way one's brain is wired for spacial relationships and what the goals for the publication are, I'd have to say it kind of depends.
Well-known design consultant
I have always thought that the smaller formats are much easier to design, and fun. But in recent years, as many newspapers have trimmed staff, I have advised publishers that the Berliner or tabloid formats are much, much easier, and economical, to design than a broadsheet.
For example: If a newspaper does not have as many photographers as it may like, and photos are too few each day, the smaller canvas is more forgiving. You can design very nice pages that are text-intensive in the smaller formats, but are not as daunting as they would be in a broadsheet form. Imagine that you only have a small mug shot, for a 2,000-word story of a crime investigation. This could be a disaster for the open broadsheet page - but could easily be managed on a tabloid page.
Logic also suggests that a smaller story count, or at least less text, is needed on a Berliner or tabloid page as would be needed on a broadsheet. Thus it is easier in the smaller format to to maintain less clutter. Same holds true for advertising - if you have 12 adverts on a broadsheet page, and maybe 6 on a tabloid page, it seems much easier for the eye to process. Less chaos and competition. Everybody wins - the reader and the advertiser.
So in my view, the broadsheet format is more challenging, and if I were a staffer at a newspaper that was downsizing (in terms of page size), I would rejoice!
Ron Reason is a consultant to newspapers worldwide. He is currently advising the Cincinnati Enquirer on its conversion to "Super Compact" format and conducting staff and leadership training in visual thinking, headline writing, use of resources, and creativity. He can be reached at email@example.com. Learn more at:www.ronreason.com/DesignWithReason/
Anything with quality, packed in small sizes are generally accepted by everybody.
As the platform becomes smaller, the players— both designers and subeditors got to be more careful.
For a designer the size does not make much of a difference. But I think, for the reader, Yes. It's obviously more comfortable for him to go through it. Both handling and the eye movement.
Having managed the transition of more than twenty newspapers from broadsheet/berliner into tabloid format, my experience says this is pure and simple math: The sheer size of the paper, and the number of columns in particular, provides you with more design options on broadsheet. Which makes the page design more challenging – in the sense that you will have more elements to juggle. The totality gets more complex.
On a typical tabloid or berliner page, with five or six columns, there's a limited number of successful ways for you to place your words and visuals; therefore, the format is less challenging from a design point of view. In most of the tabloid redesigns we have carried out over the years, we also designed libraries of standard page designs for the editors to choose from, thereby saving time for the page designers who would, nine times out of ten, have come up with similar solutions if starting from scratch.
The fact that the smaller format is less challenging, design-wise, says nothing about the possible effect it can have on readers. Research comparing broadsheet and tabloid suggests that readers are spending more time on the smaller format, relatively speaking, simply because ”a page is a page” and as long as there is something on every spread that will catch the eye, both tabloid and berliner have the potential to make readers feel they get more value for money.