Good Examples of Academic Journal Design

Ehague's picture

I'm beginning work on a non-radical design update to the interior an American Academic Journal (a law review) and am looking for examples of well-done interior design in this medium.

Most U.S. law journals use Times, fake small caps, fake superscripts, vertical space between consecutive paragraphs, unconscientious justification, etc. Any examples (in any field) to the contrary? Thanks.

philippe_g's picture

I’m not sure it’s really the type of examples you’re awaiting, but you can look up nearly any math journal. They all use LaTeX, so have a minimal quality standard (true small caps, true superscript, etc.), even though the font is often Computer Modern (which is one of the only font to have true optical sizes from 10pt down to 5pt).

See, for example, the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society.

charles ellertson's picture

Are you looking for a design, or a typeface? For example, Times does have true-cut small caps, true-cut superiors, etc. etc. Failure to use is just a liability issue...Just specifying a different typeface may not solve anything. And the composition has nothing to do with the design...

BTW, does it have to follow the Harvard Blue style?

Ehague's picture

It does have to conform to bluebook style, so the footnotes will be heavy with small caps and so forth.

Part of the redesign will definitely find involve getting a new type family that has SCs, italic SCs, superiors, and ideally a display weight and a pi font. I've got a few ideas in mind--but that isn't the hard part.

I was asking for designs because I've had such a hard time finding any journals that seem *designed* instead of just the product of a Word macro or LaTeX (we'll be using the former, sadly). I'm sure I can do a competant job producing something that looks good and doesn't violate the conservative norms of the medium, I just prefer to have seen a couple examples of good work before I set out on my own.

riccard0's picture

Not the best images, but maybe you can get the idea:
http://www.winterhouse.com/archive/magazines_nejm.html

Ehague's picture

Thanks!--I wasn't aware of that one.

charles ellertson's picture

OK, part of your problem, I think, is that MS Word may not support the typographic features you yearn for, even if they are in the font. Best check that out.

In any case, you need InDesign to do a professional job. Maybe there is an educational discount? Or, get a contribution from some lawyer who has just gotten a large settlement? (Hard to have money sympathies for lawyers, doctors, etc.)

Secondly, the hard part of *design* for a journal is trying to cover all the things the author's come up with. Varying list styles, extract styles, etc. etc. You'll see.

Good luck.

JamesM's picture

I agree with the suggestion that you should be working in Adobe InDesign rather than Word. Unfortunately it's not cheap, and there's a learning curve, but your results will be much more professional.

You might want to consider having a graphic designer handle the design and also the production of each issue. The results will be more professional.

Ehague's picture

I'm aware of the limitations of Word—I worked as a typesetter and graphic designer in print publishing for a few years before starting law school, and I've been an InDesign proponent since CS2.

Problem is, the editorial workflows of most LRs don't lend themselves to professional typesetting. Most journals operate on a shoestring budget, and the typical workflow has the upper-level editors overseeing the process of typesetting the manuscript using VBA macros supplied by the company that does the vast majority of LR publishing.

Even if we could afford multiple seat licenses of the software, training anyone besides myself wouldn't be an option, since the turnover in LR boards is annual. I love working in LaTeX—and it's a less expensive option—but most law students are scared to death of anything that looks like code.

The control over paragraph composition in Word is abysmal, but the VBA Word macros use now supports things like kerning, tracking, ligatures, and certain opentype features. It offends my sensibilities as a typographer, but working within Word is the best option I have as far as making sure that any improvements I make aren't lost as soon as I graduate. It's a compromise, but if we can become the *only* law review in the entire country not to use fake small capitals, I will be very happy.

charles ellertson's picture

For all know, Word will fake the small caps even if true-cut are in the font. The work-around, of course, is to use an old-style Type-1 font format, where the small caps are in the lower-case a-z position, and do a font change when you need small caps. But given your work flow, that's still a bit awkward.

Ehague's picture

It shouldn't be too bad: I have a separate style set up for the SC, and at the stage at which most of the editing is done, the editors use boldface to stand in for SC. The Macro will swap all the bold out for the SC style.

Jeremy Dooley's picture

I don't have any specific examples handy, but in general I have been very impressed with the typography of my wife's medical journals. I don't recall the exact ones, but maybe try JAMA or the New England Journal of Medicine.

charles ellertson's picture

It shouldn't be too bad: I have a separate style set up for the SC, and at the stage at which most of the editing is done, the editors use boldface to stand in for SC. The Macro will swap all the bold out for the SC style.

I've played around with getting true-cut characters in ebooks, which is essentially the same problem. Putting them in the old ASCII positions in separate fonts is the only solution I've come up with, for both small caps and superiors. There are several problems with this: First, kerning is blocked across font changes. If you want it, it is handwork.

And with the small caps, anyway, you now have the wrong character, a lower-case letter where a cap should (usually) be. I solved this by putting the small caps in both the upper & lower case ASCII positions, but given the legal style, that would just increase your burden. Still, if a "display" (print & ebook) edition is all you care about -- no syntactically correct Unicode files ever needed -- this approach would work.

To do all this right, you'll swapped the expense of InDesign for the expense of FontLab. Or maybe you can work in the Libre program, FontForge...

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