Monthly Archives: September 2009

Why this blog matters


JUST A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO, I received an e-mail from Will Franklin, one of this site’s frequent contributors.

Will, a designer at The Herald here in Rock Hill, was copying me on an e-mail exchange he had had with a sports page designer in Moses Lake, Washington. Their e-mails demonstrate precisely why this blog matters:

“Hi, Will!

I saw your football tab cover on Ed Henninger’s blog, and (like everyone else, apparently) I loved it. At the risk of being presumptuous, is it possible you have a PDF copy of the whole tab I could look at?

I don’t want to be an idea vampire, but I’d really like to see how a better designer than myself puts together a sports tab. I work for a small daily in a rural area, and we cover something like 11 small-town high school sports programs. Anything I can learn from more experienced layout people, I’d be very grateful for.

Thanks a lot for any help you can give!

Joel Martin
Columbia Basin Herald
Moses Lake, Washington”



I am flattered, but I assure you there are probably a million designers out there better than me. I’m just glad that folks liked what I did. I do have a pdf version of the complete tab on my online portfolio ( It’s about 50 megs, but it’s a 24-pager. We have a relatively small paper here as well (we cover about 13 high schools during football season).

If there’s anything else I can do for you, please let me know. I’d be glad to help in any way I can.

Thanks again,

Will F.”

And thanks to you, Will, for sending this along.

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Going global…or at least nationwide!

THERE’S A LINE in a ZZ Top song: “Yeah, I’m ba-a-a-d…I’m nationwide.”

That line has been swimmin’ around in my head a lot lately.

z EARTH FROM MOONI’ve been building this blog very carefully the past few months and I’ve seen it grow into a tool that can be used to help foster good design—and good design thinking—among designers at small and community newspapers. It is the…only…place on the internet where designers at small and community newspapers can post their pages and offer each other ideas and feedback.

Word will go out soon to infopersons at press associations across the U.S. and Canada, and I’m hoping they will let others know.

You can help. It’s time to spread the word to your friends and colleagues. Please send them a quick note and let them know about Ed Henninger’s Blog.

I’m a bit concerned that the response may create too much interest, that I won’t have the time to post all pages that are eventually submitted. But what a wonderfully troublesome thing to happen! If that comes, I’ll find a way to work with it. But I’m looking forward to making this blog THE “go-to” place for designers at weeklies and small dailies.

Thanks to all of you who have submitted pages—and your comments—so far. It’s been a fun ride to this point. Now, let’s see where this takes us!


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August winners!

THANKS TO YOU, this blog is gaining momentum. Many of you have submitted pages—and comments—during the past weeks and those are the meat and potatoes of this site.

We had quite a few submissions in August…and comments on those pages. I’ve promised to award the best page and the best comment a free pdf copy of my latest book, 101 Henninger Helpful Hints.

FBTABcoverAUGUST BEST PAGE: Will Franklin’s football tab cover. Excellent idea, nicely executed. As a winner for best comment last month, Will already has a copy of 101 Henninger Helpful Hints. So I’m sending him a pdf of my first book, Henninger on Design.

AUGUST BEST COMMENT: Darah Patterson at The Greer Ctizen had this comment on pages submitted from the Biog Rapids Pioneer: “I think the map page is very well done. I can also appreciate the header with ‘The Land Before Time’ theme. I think the Lifestyles package with the clown is excellent and invokes feelings of fun and happiness. As a paper we are cautious of using too many colors, especially dark ones which involve reverse type. Mainly, because printing can become an issue, and secondly stories and elements start to compete with each other. The city lands jobs layout just uses too many elements. It might be more enjoyable to use a sparing amount of extra elements and focus more on the stories. Overall, I think the packages that spotlight one story are the strongest.”

Congratulations to Will (the first two-time winner!) and Darah!


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Still need your help!

DESIGN 2010I’M BEGINNING to put together my next column for Publishers’ Auxiliary. The topic is “Design 2010.” I’d like to share your thoughts on where you think design—especially for community newspapers—will go during the next year.

This is your opportunity to let it all out, to tell others what you see for the future of design. Will papers continue to shrink? Will more community newspapers go to tabloid format? Is there hope for larger packages—even in smaller papers? Will design help to save papers…or will publishers just not really care about design?

Let me know…soon. It’s OK if you send me some comments—or a rant—and you don’t want your name published.

Get on your soapbox and let’s year what you have to say!

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Well advice on writing good

WHILE VISITING with a client last week, I noticed the following posted on the editor’s bulletin board. She was happy to share it with me…and I’m happy to share it with you.

I don’t know the source of this one. If you do, please let me know.

Good food for thought here—and it’ll give you a chuckle.


1. Avoid alliteration. Always.

2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

3. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They’re old hat.)

4. Employ the vernacular.

5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

7. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

8. Contractions aren’t necessary.

9. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

10. One should never generalize.

z Ralph_Waldo_Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson

11. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”

12. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.

13. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.

14. Be more or less specific.

15. Understatement is always best.

16. One-word sentences? Eliminate.

17. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.

18. The passive voice is to be avoided.

19. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.

20. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.

21. Who needs rhetorical questions?

22. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

Here’s a writing rule from Winston Churchill that I’ve always liked: “Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.”

How about you? Any favorite writing/grammar rules to share?


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Poll: All-caps headlines—Good or bad?

PREVIOUS POSTS have mentioned concern about all-caps headlines. That is: most of you don’t seem to like them. For my part, I’ve never really understood why designers use them, except for use on a special features package.

The one advantage to all-caps heads is that they have no descenders—and that can occasionally make a difference in a design. Other than that, all-caps heads seem to add undue emphasis to a package.

Here’s the poll. Cast your vote.

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