Constructive Feedback pls.

Kristina Drake's picture


I asked a while back for your suggestions on putting together a bilingual booklet. This has already gone to print, and the event is long over, but I would like to get your thoughts before it's time to work on the next convocation booklet.

I've attached a pdf with some of the pages.

Edit: I haven't included the cover because I didn't design it.


Edit #2. Thanks for the input. I'm removing the file because I'm not sure it would be cool with the people listed in the booklet to keep it posted.


Quincunx's picture

It looks clean, however I wouldn't really like reading such large portions of text in italics. Maybe you can use a Regular and Light version of a different typeface the next time? One weight for one language, and the other weight for the other.

Conor's picture

I would go with differentiation through colour rather than weight.

Here in Ireland, most governmental publications are required to be produced bilingually (even more-so now given Gaeilge’s recent acceptance as an official European language) and thus this design issue often arises. Officially the requirement is that there be no importance given to the English over Gaeilge and vice versa. Colour differentiation is the natural solution.

Personally I feel it looks and reads better.

Quincunx's picture

That's indeed an option as well, differentiation through colour.
Fact remains that reading large portions in italic, isn't too nice. ;)

Conor's picture

Setting large quantities of text in italic is a no-no under any circumstances.

timd's picture

I find the use of small caps at the beginning of every paragraph of the introductory copy a little too much, especially combined with an indent, I think I would use it for the first paragraph of each section but not in the subsequent paragraphs.

It also seems odd that the actual degrees don't have a french translation, and when the titles of papers are already in italics I don't think the indent on the second line is necessary, the italic is already indicating a section; I might be inclined to lose the space after the titles of the degree discipline and the indent for following text; and use an abbreviation and key to indicate which students had received distinction rather than having it run over to the next line, where it can seem to act as a subtitle. On the headings that you have ranged left or right depending on whether they are recto or verso it might be nice to use the hedera in a mirror version to continue that. On page 3 I would turn over the last word of the penultimate line so that Montreal wouldn't be so lonely there are a few more that I would turnover, this is the most in need. The rule above the pagination is too similar to the rule used with headings it might be better to reduce it in width or run it either side of the numbers with a break in between.

If you develop a separate style for the actual degrees, this could be a different grid or family of fonts, you might be able to keep the french in the roman type rather than italic and use recto and verso to differentiate between them.


Kristina Drake's picture

Thanks for the comments.
Certainly a lot of food for thought for next time round, and now is the time to make these corrections and decisions, not while in the throes of production. :)

(feeling the need to defend myself, but I'll try not to)

We discussed using abbreviations and using * or ** to indicate with distinction/great distinction, but most of the group preferred to include the whole mention, although certainly it would have made my life easier to not have it written out in full.

I guess I need to pay more attention to turning over the last words... it's amazaing how you can have gone over something so many times and still not notice stuff.

Tim, I'm not sure what you mean by:

>> If you develop a separate style for the actual degrees, this could be a different grid or family of fonts, you might be able to keep the french in the roman type rather than italic and use recto and verso to differentiate between them.

Do you mean the titles of the degrees? or the listing of names? Everything within the listing of names is unilingual English.

I think I may look at choosing a different font for the French next time. I knew that longer amounts of text in italics would be more difficult to read, but the weight differences in minion don't really make it possible to use light and regular, and I was finding it difficult to find an appropriate complementary font. Also, the italics reduced the French text, and we were told these front texts would be shorter than they ended up being. I do have everything in styles, so changing from one to another shouldn't be too bad, and as I said, now's the time.

The idea of using colour is an interesting one, although, again, problematic. We looked at some other convocation booklets which used navy ink throughout on cream-coloured paper. It worked very well. However, Concordia's colour is burgundy. Pantone 207 or 209 depending on the work. The group was worried that using the burgundy would be tough to read, and would look too pink. It actually turned out quite nice, and darkened by the off-white paper. If we have the budget to continue with the 2-color inside, I may be able to convince them to go with French in 209. But we were already pushing the budget limits this time round, and next ceremony we have 5 books instead of 2. *sigh*

We won't translate the degree names, although we did discuss the possibility with the translation department, bt it simply becomes too tedious and long. Either the headers and subheaders take up too much space and are too repetetive or we have to duplicate the listing of names which becomes, aside from long, problematic for accuracy. The book already runs 44 pages.

Unless specifically requested, our degrees are issued in English, so we figured it is not a large departure to list them in English only. The disciplines also -- again we discussed the possibility of translating and ran into problems: do we translate "etudes francaises" (which is the program title) into English if we translate the others into French? The fact is, it is an English university. Mmm, and we also looked at other universities offering bilingual convocation booklets. McGill doesn't translate, so we decided to follow them.

Thanks for the suggestions about the small caps and indents. I will play around. I really didn't know how to go about it there. Also the rule above the pagination. Good idea, I will try it.

Thanks again! It always helps to have specific comments by people who know what they're doing. I'm still very new at this, and just learning.


timd's picture

>If you develop a separate style for the actual degrees, this could be a different grid or family of fonts, you might be able to keep the french in the roman type rather than italic and use recto and verso to differentiate between them.

I thought that if the unilingual section was treated in a different way, you could divide the french and english sections in the bilingual sections by keeping to the same style as the English (all roman) and establish the left page as the default for french readers and right for the english readers. It boils down to an alternative to using colour, although a deeper burgundy printed in a spot colour should be perfectly readable.

I don’t think you need to defend yourself, there are good reasons for some of the editorial decisions, which we are not privy to, which make sense after you explain them. And, after all, these are only suggestions. Turnovers and such are sometimes better spotted away from a computer screen, the interface, guides and so on are distracting, from a laser print, or by a colleague. I think that there are opportunities to save space, for example, on page 24, removing the space after the sub-heads might allow you to pull all of Communication Studies back onto one page. btw on page 26 you have an extra space after Classics.


Kristina Drake's picture

Hm, OK I think I understand. I was worried that where the texts run 2 pages, readers would get confused -- you know start reading left and continue right unless there was some cue that the right was the same, only English. Hopefully, though, the front matter will be a lot shorter next time around, and won't run 2 pages for any single item. It bothers me that the main action -- the grad names -- only starts half way into the book.

Thanks for pointing out that extra space. :) It is, indeed, difficult to catch it all. It gets so you can't see straight anymore. A fresh pair of eyes is always good.

We may be able to go with the 209. Do you think the colour will make it more or less important than the black? I would be inclined to use colour for the French, but that might be seen as giving it more importance. It's a touchy issue here, sometimes.

Lots to play with for next time 'round. Thank you! I do appreciate the suggestions.


Linda Cunningham's picture

Thanks for posting it, Kristina: I was hoping you would.

Given your limitations, both budgetary and linguistically, I think you produced a great piece -- it's always problematic dealing with English and French in Quebec without bringing down a visit from the Language Police. ;-)

And universities certainly have their own peculiar quirks as well: I've got the booklet from my graduation and yours is better than it, and that's even with only having to be one language and four colours!

Kristina Drake's picture

Thank you, Linda. :)

Although I very much want input and want to learn, I am hesitant to post for critique because I am aware that many of the faux-pas I make arise from simple ignorance and inexperience. I am learning on the job and have never studied design. I'm doing what I can: reading typophile, typography books, and other forums and sites. But I have been scared off by some comments on other forums (not here!) that berate newbs like myself for trying to do this kind of work without having first studied design.

I find most everyone here gentle and receptive and super helpful, but I am still worried that someone will come along one day and launch the kind of criticism I have read elsewhere. And of course, it's easier to post for critique when you are confident about what you're doing.

At the same time, I don't know anyone personally who can offer me constructive feedback on what I've produced. I work in something of a professional vacuum. So you guys are it. I hope you keep putting up with my tentative steps, and that I keep making them :)

Anyway, the booklet was well received. That is to say there was deafening silence and no negative comments. That's as good as it gets around here! I hear tell the president's wife is a translator -- the translation department was particularly nervous about this project. Thankfully my couple of French oversights went unnoticed. So far. ;)


Don McCahill's picture

No one else seems to have mentioned it, but I find the two column front matter material is a bit narrow in the measure. You might want to run it as a single column, like the rest of the book.

As for the italics, I don't think you need to differentiate the French from the English. I suspect most readers will quickly figure it out with the same type.

Kristina Drake's picture

Thanks Don, I was playing with the idea of switching it to one column like the rest.

Oki. I guess I will try a version with all roman and see how it reads.


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