Work interrupted

Covers and other special projects, Design, Ideas

I started on this project a long time ago, but just haven’t had time to finish it. We produced a publication for the Docking Institute of Public Affairs last fall on the results of their annual Kansas Speaks survey.

Kansas Speaks 2013 4

Sample page of the document

They prepared the text and the graphs. We designed the cover and did the pagination. But we also ended up doing a lot of tweaking on their charts and graphs. They created them in Excel. All the charts and graphs had to be converted to CMYK — easy enough to do in Illustrator. But we also had to make them more readable, which involved changing fonts and then also going back and putting white squares behind a lot of the numbers on the charts to make them more visible. It was easy enough, but kind of tedious, and we were doing it on a very tight deadline and with our usual amount of work. I’m pretty happy with what my co-worker and I were able to do.

But after it was all said and done, I got to wondering what we could have done if  we’d had more time and if we had been able to collaborate with the clients on creating the graphics.

This is what I came up with:


This was after about two weeks of working on it on my downtime, using the data they originally sent us. We’ve gotten much busier since then, so it’s unfinished. I hope to add more to it at some point to at least use as an example of what we are capable of doing.

I used their data from Excel to create the graphs in Illustrator, then enhanced them with some 3D effects or artwork. There are some bar graphs I’d somehow like to incorporate into the yellow brick road.

The charts they provided were fine for helping to show the results of their survey, but something like this is more likely to catch the reader’s eye and could also be prepared for sharing through social media.

And yes, I went there. I used a Wizard of Oz theme. I’m FROM Kansas, so I’m allowed. =)

Veterans Tribute


Here’s an idea for your newspaper that can garner some good community mojo and maybe bring in some revenue at the same time: A special section saluting military veterans.

HA VeteransMy newspaper has done this for quite a few years now, and it continues to grow in popularity. We accept submissions from the public to create individual tributes to veterans — living, dead, currently serving, doesn’t matter — which are then published together in a special section run on Veteran’s Day.

Each tribute is one column wide by 3 inches deep, and we get six rows per page (with a header for each branch of the military). Last year, we had two 10-page sections, which included a front and back cover for the first section, and a front cover and back page for the sponsors for the second section all in process color. The tribute pages themselves were in black and white. We had a few fillers here and there, but we had over 500 veterans featured, a record for this publication.

This year, we are using InDesign’s Data Merge function to put it together. It makes for more work now, but it will pay off in the years to come.

In years past, we would build each veteran’s tribute as a 1×3″ InDesign document, print proofs of each, make corrections and place each on the full-size page document. All the individual ID docs would be copied from year to year, but their photos would be kept in the first year they appeared. That could make for a mess if a reader wanted to make sure we had their veteran’s photo, or if the link somehow got broken.

Data Merge will make it much more organized. It is a little more work to go find each photo and place it in one folder, but from year to year, we’ll use the same folder and same data base and have it in one location on a server instead of a different folder for each year. Corrections will be made in the database.

One of the pages from last year's section.

One of the pages from last year’s section.

We also redesigned the look of the individual tributes, and I like them better. They’re not as dark, so I think the photos will stand out more.

The photo size is also larger so we can show more than just the face. Some of the photos we get aren’t portraits but rather the serviceman (most are men, especially before the 1980s) in his environment or posing for the camera, his uniform hat a rakish angle. It gives you a sense of who the person was at the time of the picture, I think. We even have a handful of photos from WWI and even the Civil War.

We do start advertising about taking the photos at the beginning of October, but there’s still some time to get started on a project like this if you haven’t before. Give it a try. Our readers love it.