Correct placment of copyright information?

Subject: Correct placment of copyright information?
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "Techwr-L (E-mail)" <TECHWR-L -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>, 'celia reynolds' <creynolds_245 -at- hotmail -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2003 08:49:40 -0400

celia reynolds wonders: <<I am getting the feeling that, althoug this new
template is supposed to be a group effort, the opinions of the squeakier
wheels will prevail.>>

Welcome to life in the corporate world. Although logic and facts can often
win against those in need of axle grease, sometimes you have to be the even
squeakier wheel to make sure that common sense prevails. Plus, you have to
pick and choose which battles you _must_ win and which ones you can
compromise on.

<<One issue that has come up is the proper placement of copyright
information. The more vocal members want to do something different, rather
than traditional, and place all copyright information on the front (title)

By full copyright, I assume you mean contact information, ISBN (if
available), a mission statement, the CIP data, etc. etc.? If so, it's not
inherently wrong, but can certainly lead to a very cluttered design.
Moreover, people who go looking for the information on the back of the title
page (the traditional position) won't find it, and will have to search

Ask them the following questions: What advantage does a cluttered title page
offer us or the reader? What advantage does making the reader search for
copyright information offer us or the reader? Casually ask "in the absence
of a benefit, why try to fix what works just fine (i.e., the traditional

But don't go to war over this, as it's not a crucial usability issue. It's
fairly common to see a simple copyright statement (copyright, (C), and the
date) on the title page, particularly for self-published documents. An
acceptable compromise might be to put the simple statement on the title
page, and provide more details on the back of the page. Save your efforts
for the battles that it's important to win. Such as:

<<A second issue is that they want to make all heading styles in All Caps
format. They will vary the heading styles by using different font sizes.>>

And no doubt they want to use Zapf Chancery for body text? <shudder> Here's
the thing: It's been very well demonstrated that all-caps text is harder to
read. You can prove this to anyone's satisfaction by printing the exact same
sentence in all-caps and in normal sentence case. Cover the bottom half of
both sentences, then ask them to read the all-caps text first. They probably
can't. Ask them to read the traditional sentence case next. Odds are good
that most of them can. That little demonstration is more convincing to most
people than all the typographic studies in the world.

It's traditional in some fields to use all-caps headings where the headings
are short, and thus, nobody has to read much. In many science journals, for
CONCLUSIONS. Note that each of these is a single word. If that's your
situation, it's not an inherently bad design decision. Suboptimal, perhaps,
but perfectly functional.

Next, provide them with a page mockup that contains levels two and three of
the heading hierarchy (plus associated text). Ask them which is the L1 and
which is the L2 heading. It's a trick question, but it makes the point: they
won't be able to see differences in heading levels based purely on type size
unless the size differences are huge... which leads to a remarkably ugly
page when you add in the L1 heading. And God forbid they try to extend this
to more than 3 levels.

Now show them a compromise mockup: L1 in all caps plus L2 in caps and lc
(both bold), and L3 in the body text font (but larger and bold, caps and
lc). Ask them to spot the beginning of each section (L1 head), the main
subsections (L2), and the lowest level of the hierarchy (L3). Again, the
demonstration is often far more effective than appealing to logic. Plus,
because it's a compromise (you accepted all caps for the L1 head), you can
sell this as a win-win situation.

One thing you can strive for: Once you've demonstrated that you know what
you're talking about, try to steer them away from "design by committee". Ask
the former committee members to instead articulate their goals for the
design, then leave the details to you. Ask them to bring you samples of what
they consider to be good design. You can then create mockups and run the
designs past them for approval and tweaking. This becomes collaborative
rather than confrontational, reinforces your role as expert, and plays to
their strengths (recognizing what they like) rather than their weaknesses

<<Does anyone have any opinions about these subject they can share with

Surely you jest. On this list? <g>

--Geoff Hart, geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
(try ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca if you get no response)
Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada
580 boul. St-Jean
Pointe-Claire, Que., H9R 3J9 Canada

"Wisdom is one of the few things that look bigger the further away it
is."--Terry Pratchett

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