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updated: 7/17/2014 10:38 AM

Display pages keep art in the joy of newspaper reading

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What caught my attention was the headline for Wednesday's Food section: SIPPING AWAY ... SUMMER DAYS ... and the pleasant, break-a-few-rules design. The words sipping and summer in a soft peach color to match the tall pitchers of lemonade cocktails dominating the page. A long, vertical straw screened behind the text linking the main story and sidebar below.

It was, if you'll pardon the word play, sweet. And it reminded me of a characteristic of newspapers -- feature-page design -- that's lost in the translation to online delivery (unless you read our e-edition -- more about that in a moment.)

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Page design is an important aspect of the newspaper experience every day and on every page. On our front page, design plays a particularly important and diverse role striving both to attract your attention and indicate the relative weight and seriousness of each story on the page. On feature pages, presentation can focus on a single theme, so the page designer faces a more expansive and visual challenge.

The result is a display that both acknowledges your willingness to settle in and relax with a given story on a large printed page and encourages you to that end. Webpage design is also critical, of course, but it serves a very different, more frenetic function, generally reflecting the way most of us surf, scroll or simply dash through webpages on a computer monitor or a screen that fits in the palm of a hand.

As the Web transforms the way people interact with news sources and financial pressures strain the availability of newsprint, the opportunities for more expansive feature design are declining. But they still abound in such sections as Food, Time Out! and Home & Garden.

Our Food sections this summer have been particularly appealing. Among these, feast your eyes -- again, apologies for the word play -- on the June 4 project headlined "Off center." Or, look back at Home & Garden in June and July (see especially the colorful Adirondack chairs gracing "What homeowners want" on June 1 or the creative crafts commanding "Show your spirit" on July 1). Our Friday Time Out! entertainment sections explode with creativity on nearly every title page and certainly in the weekly double-truck centerspread. (Take special note of such projects over the past few weeks as "Summer beat," "Testing the waters" and "All the world's a stage.")

In these and so many more examples, our designers use a creative blend of typography, photography and graphic artistry to tell a story that goes beyond the mere words of the pieces on display. It's a particularly pleasant experience.

Which brings me back to the e-edition. Here, we blend the interactivity and flexibility of the Web experience with the visual appeal and expanse of the original print edition to create truly the perfect newspaper. If you read us online but haven't tried the e-edition yet, you should give it a try. It's available free to seven-day subscribers at our website, eedition.dailyherald.com. If you haven't activated your digital subscription already, you can at dailyherald.com/activate. It could make a true newspaper reader of you again.

If nothing else, for the peculiar pleasure of reading a newspaper, it will keep fresh the waning art of art.

• Jim Slusher, jslusher@dailyherald.com, is an assistant managing editor at the Daily Herald. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/jim.slusher1 and on Twitter at @JimSlusher.

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