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The Observer-Dispatch front page (the front page of the day for April 20) uses various breakouts, from text boxes, quotes, lists and graphics.
All are great additions to the front page lineup and offer unique opportunies to attract readers. What I want to draw your attention to is chart with the pension story at the bottom of the page.
width="252" height="248" align="left" alt="" src="http://otg.mysuburbanlife.com/sites/joegreco.ghnewsroom.com/files/0420 Observer-DispatchGRAPHIC1.jpg" />
With all the necessary information, the chart tells readers what two local counties paid in pention contributions in 2008, 2009 and 2010. But looking at the organization and white space, I thought I would offer another solution that could take advantage of that space. Here's what I did:
Because I don't have Utica's fonts used in the graphic above, I used the Benton Sans Book and Bold fonts to reacreate the graphic below:
You'll notice above that I removed the frame to allow for additoinal space.
Next, I identified redundant pieces of information, shown below in magenta.
width="252" height="241" align="left" alt="" src="http://otg.mysuburbanlife.com/sites/joegreco.ghnewsroom.com/files/0420 Observer-DispatchGRAPHIC3.jpg" />
I do this because the repeating words can be used for labeling information in columns and rows. In doing so, I can reorganize the information in this way:
By avoiiding redundancies and reorganizing the content, we are able to display the numbers horizontally, making them easier to read. The juxtaposition also allows readers to compare county numbers more easily.
And I havven't even mentioned that we saved one inch of space. Buy why stop there? Why don't we make that saved space more useful and add an explanation and one more column of data:
width="252" height="223" align="left" src="http://otg.mysuburbanlife.com/sites/joegreco.ghnewsroom.com/files/0420 Observer-DispatchGRAPHIC5.jpg" alt="" />
Lots of numbers can be a difficult to read for some, so the explanatory text interprets the data. The added column shows the percent increase over the previous year, which is noted in the explanation.
Removing the frame and corresponding text inset saves a consdiderable amount of space. Despite adding the extra information, the before-and-after images show there's still a savings of a couple picas.
Next time you work on a text box with tabbed information, follow these steps:
1. Look for large amounts of white space and redundant information.
2. Reorganize redundancies into labels for rows and columns
3. Add an explainer to help readers understand the numbers in the chart.
Are you working on a chart or graphic or have one to share? Send it to email@example.com.
Joe Greco is corporate design director for GateHouse Media.
Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.