By Jeb Bing
The Pleasanton Weekly--newly designed, easier to readUploaded: Apr 17, 2009
Ever find yourself looking at a co-worker who just shaved off his moustache or a female colleague who's sporting a new hairstyle, but you just can't quite pinpoint why they look different?
That might be what some of you are thinking about the new look of today's Pleasanton Weekly, where we've made a number of subtle, or in the case of our new nameplate, not-so-subtle changes. Even newspapers, like individuals, occasionally get a facelift, and this is ours. (Click here to see a PDF of today's print edition.)
Gone is the stark block nameplate with Pleasanton in green positioned atop Weekly in big black letters. And there's a reason. Art Director Rick Nobles, who was asked to update the design of this newspaper when he joined our staff last year, likes to think out loud about how headlines, section designations and nameplates sound when readers talk about them.
While the block-style nameplate Pleasanton Weekly looked good in print and on local billboards, say at the back of the bandstand at the Friday Concerts in the Park, which we sponsor, it's different when spoken. People call us the Pleasanton Weekly, with no particular emphasis on either word. But to Nobles, the green-colored "Pleasanton" accented that word unlike the way it's usually said. Some newspapers with long-standing nameplates, such as the News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) or Sun-Times (Chicago) don't use their city's name. That wouldn't work for the Weekly, of course, so Nobles' new nameplate is more horizontal in the same InDesign software program, with our signature green flowing under the name to the right. Even that is a Nobles unique design.
A 12-year resident of Pleasanton, he's looked at and walked the Pleasanton Ridge as most of us, always awed by our city's eye-popping western skyline. So that ridgeline has now become part of our nameplate, again adding to our hometown image.
Nobles, who has many years of design, newspaper production and editing experience dating back to the 1980s and pre-computer design work at a small Nebraska daily, honed his skills as a designer and editor at the San Jose Mercury News for 15 years and then seven more at the San Francisco Chronicle. He's paid attention to changes in typography, fonts, section identities (or flags, as he calls them) more than most. Words such as point sizes, Berkeley Old Style, sans serif, Helvetica, Gothic and other popular typefaces are as much part of his vocabulary as Main Street, police log and Streetwise are for editors.
You'll notice a number of Nobles' subtle changes as you read through this edition. This column, for instance, uses Berkeley Oldstyle with a drop cap tag for the first paragraph. The column also runs ragged right, which besides separating it from the justified flush right for editorials and most other copy, also tends to reduce the number of hyphens that have to be used to move part of a word to the next line. Nobles also has created new column, editorial and other special feature heads, again using InDesign guidelines. Speaking of the Editorial, we're now using a larger type face to set it off from conventional news stories, which are generally in 9-point type. Calendar listings have also been boosted which may be helpful for those with maturing eyes.
You'll also find the newly designed Pleasanton Weekly a bit more organized, with stories, columns, listings, sports and features more clearly identified. We'll try to make photos larger where space permits and do a better job of playing them off accompanying stories with, as Nobles calls it, "a rhythm of perspective." That's harder in a magazine format such as ours, but we're also easier to handle and read than broadsheets, which is the style of most dailies.
Typeface aficionados will find news headlines in more readable ITC Legacy Sans Ultra, with cover stories and Living section titles specially designed by Nobles and his staff with InDesign. This desktop publishing software has enabled Nobles (and publication designers throughout the industry) to move more quickly and creatively from his days at the Nebraska daily where pencils, pica rulers and page drafting forms were the tools of the trade.