In disclosing and discussing the results of the brief (non-scientific, not a large enough response to be statistically interesting) survey of Cites & Insights readers, I noted the results on the first question: That is, 11 of 39 respondents usually read C&I as a print PDF (which the design is clearly optimized for), only 3 usually read it as HTML essays–and 16 usually read it as PDF but online (by which I intended, and I assumed people meant, “on screen, not printed out,” whether actually online or on an offline reading device).
To which I commented:
What I’m not sure is what, if anything, I can do to make the online PDF easier to read without making the print PDF more wasteful of paper. (A single-column 8.5″-wide issue is really not an option: That damages readability far too much.) If I come up with good ideas that don’t require much additional effort, I might do another survey. If you have great ideas, I’d welcome them. (If you’ve commented at this blog before and don’t use multiple links, direct comments might work. Otherwise…well, send them to waltcrawford at gmail dot com, since I’m still getting more than 100 spamments a day, so don’t really skim them for legitimate comments.)
I haven’t received any suggestions, and now I’m considering a slightly different issue:
If I offered C&I Online, an alternate PDF version that’s optimized for screen reading, what should that look like–noting that options need to be ones that take a relatively trivial amount of time to create from the print-optimized PDF version.
So, for example, a different-sized banner and a single column, in a width that works for reading, is plausible.
I’d love to have two or three plausible alternatives, in which case I’d run a quick poll aimed at those 16 readers and others like them. I anticipate doing the first New & “Improved” C&I fairly soon–probably within two weeks, maybe within a week–so I’d want to get this put together rapidly.
Here’s one possibility:
6″ x 9″ page size, single column, with 4 pica (two-thirds inch) side margins (no gutter margin), 4 pica top & bottom margin, no table of contents, but headings translated into bookmarks. (The hierarchy of headings doesn’t always work quite right, but it’s close.)
Turns out the lack of bookmarks in the existing PDFs is sloppiness on my part: The option’s there even in the save as PDF Word function, I just didn’t notice it. (Future issues will have bookmarks, unless I forget again…)
A quick test says that this version would roughly double the page count–38 pages for the January/February issue, although the test run didn’t really have a banner at all–but that’s presumably less of an issue.
Suggested alternatives, before I do another quick poll (which I’d probably start on March 1 and end after 4-5 days)? Drop the running page headers and footers? Turn off hyphenation and justification entirely? This all needs to be options that can be applied fairly quickly, preferably by copying the text into a new template (which works for the first suggested alternative), since the 8.5″ x 11″ 2-column version will still be the canonical version. (It’s the most efficient in terms of paper use, by quite a long shot.)
If you have a suggestion, send it to waltcrawford at gmail dot com.