15 November 2018

Critique: Digitized manuscripts

This blog mostly uses sciences as examples, so I am always positively delighted when I get contributions from the humanities. Today’s contribution is from Cornelius van Lit. Click to enlarge!


One of the things like about getting other people’s posters is they try stuff I would never do. I’d never put my title in the middle of the poster. And yet, it works here.

The poster is a great example use of using size to indicate reading priority. That large text in the middle makes it very clear where you are supposed to start reading. Nothing competes with that title.

The downside of having the title in the middle is that there is some potential confusion about how you are supposed to read the remaining text. But it’s okay here. After reading the middle introduction, people will jump up to the upper left corner (which starts “Scholars use digitized manuscripts...”) because that’s just where you look first when you read English.

After reading that section, I think most people will read across to the top right (which starts, “In one chapter...”), because of the proximity of the text. Having that big title in the middle stops you from looking down and trying to read in columns. If the title and introduction were at the top, people would get lost. (But with only four sections, they wouldn’t get lost long.)

I tried making two changes, both subtle, in the revision below.


First, I moved the author information and the QR code from the top of the poster to the bottom. I really didn’t like how the QR code was sitting “corner to corner” in the first version, so I lined it up with the map below. Besides, both bits of material looked like “fine print,” and fine print is more logically placed at the bottom. It might also be easier for shorter people to scan the QR code if it’s lower rather than higher on the poster.

Second, I added a very subtle neatline around the map in the lower left corner. (You may have to enlarge to see it.) Three sides of the map have segments with clear straight edges, but the left side doesn’t, making the map a strange, irregular shape. By using a thin, light gray line, the shape of the map becomes more consistent with the shapes in the other three corners.

External links

Among digitized manuscripts

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