Esthetic and Psychological Factors in the Design of Published Indexes

Eugene Garfield, Ph.D.

Presented at the ADI meeting, Boston, MA., Fall 1961.

The proper selection of typographical styles is an important ingredient for consumer acceptance of printed publications.  Unfortunately, there is no quantitative measure of this extremely subjective consideration The esthetic and psychological reasons why we accept one format and reject another.  Type styles change and so do art forms.  We also know very little about the motivation for this.  Publishers can only follow their intuitions on these matters.

The brevity of this talk will not permit me to mention many relevant studies.  Rather, it is merely my intent to reiterate the existence of the problem of proper packaging of the printed word.

I have shown here eight different formats.  Any of these formats could each be done at a different reduction ratio which might seem more readable in a normal reading situation.  Observe especially the spacing between lines and between complete titles.  Also note the amount of indentation, column width and the number of columns.  Also note that we give the page numbers right after the title in sharp contrast to the conventional format with a completely justified right hand margin.  A few journals have recently adopted this practice, as for example, The Biophysical Journal.

Another factor which affects readability is the order of author and article title.  This is illustrated in the difference between the January and the June issue of METTALLURG.

A point well known to type designers is the readability of Roman styles of type (with serifs).  However, Gothic type styles, without serifs, are considered by typographers as more attractive but are seemingly more difficult to read.

To summarize then, in trying to design the most attractive and useful contents page, the following factors must be considered and intermixed.

1. Stype of type
2. Size of type in preparing original copy
3. Percentage camera reduction after preparation
4. Column width
5. Number of columns
6. Leading between lines and between separate bibliographical entities.
7. Use of attention devices such as dotted lines, indentations, stars, arrows, etc.
8. The alteration of type styles, as for example, bold face, italic, light face
9. Alteration of caps and lower caps
10.Order of bibliographical elements, as for example author, title, address

These same points are now illustrated (Slides 9-14) by another Russian journal .  However, I would call special attention to the May 1961 issue where there is no leading between each bibliographic entity.  Even though the use of italics for the authors permits the identification of each item, the compression of type creates a very disturbing effect.  In these examples, you will note that we have not always placed the paging immediately after the author or title.

The following example (slides 15-18) is a journal which is a rather new American journal whose contents page we were instrumental in designing.

The first three slides show how the title page of this journal would look in various typewriter styles.  The first is the standard pica, and the next two are IBM executive styles with variations in order, caps and lower case;  The fourth is the contents page as it actually appeared in the latest issue.  You will note that all of the various elements mentioned before have been taken into consideration.  In addition, a very brief annotation following each article is used to amplify the title.  The size of this type is very small on the assumption that the reader will not read every abstract.  We believe that this page stands out from the others we regularly publish though I think there is room for improvement, particularly in the use of bold face type for the titles.

Computer Formats Slides 19-20
Now let me quickly illustrate some of the differences in index formats using the same type of computer printer in this case an IBM 407.  Slide #19 is a page from a permuted title index.   Slide #20 is an alphabetic index using varying indentations to achieve a more readable format.

Slides 21-22
Finally let us briefly consider the psychological advantages or disadvantages of a graphic versus a verbal presentation.  The following slides are taken from an article which appeared in Chemical Week Magazine in July.  In this instance, a Russian article is shown on slide 21 as it was abstracted in Chemical Abstracts, and then the same article is shown as it was abstracted graphically in the
Index Chemicus.

The advent of computer actuated type-setting and photo-setting devices makes it all the more important and advantageous to focus attention on the problems of finding the most effective formats for the composition of the printed page.