Avoidable Design Disasters Series—Journaling

with 48 Comments

Avoidable Design Disasters Series—Journaling
by Jen White

Floating Fred, Bossy Betty, and Schizophrenic Steve are among the stars of our newest blog teaching series entitled Avoidable Design Disasters. Join me today as I discuss journaling disasters and what can be done to avoid them.

2013-0319-blog-example1Journaling Design Disaster #1: Supersized Sally
Creating a book for the blind or a large print edition? If not, then there’s no need to supersize your journaling. I understand why you’d be tempted to do this. You want your online viewers to be able to read what you’ve written. But, resist the temptation. All this does is make your page design disastrous!

Instead, Do This: Keep the font size of your journaling appropriate. Depending on the font, somewhere between 12 and 18 points is usually okay. If you want to share your journaling and you are not sure if it’s legible online, simply copy and paste the text into the description area of the posted image.

2013-0319-blog-example2Journaling Design Disaster #2: Italic Isabelle
With the gazillion choices of fonts available, I know it can be tempting to choose an italic style font for journaling on your scrapbook pages . . . but, don’t. It’s grammatically incorrect. Italics should only be used when referencing book titles, magazine titles, movie titles, etc. If you are unsure about an italicizing rule, a simple search of the internet will produce quick and comprehensive results.

Instead, Do This: Create the journaling on your scrapbook page with a simple serif or sans serif font. This will be the easiest to read and will look the most pleasing.

2013-0319-blog-example3Journaling Design Disaster #3: Floating Fred
Never, never, never add a drop shadow to journaling. Fonts do not float over scrapbook pages.

Instead, Do This: If your journaling is hard to read, try changing the font or making your existing font a faux bold. Sometimes it helps to brush some light colored paint behind the journaling.

2013-0319-blog-example4Journaling Design Disaster #4: Bossy Betty
Be very mindful of your Layers panel when adding journaling. Placing a type layer at the top of the Layers panel is usually a bad idea. This can easily result in type that lurks over 3D objects like flowers, frames, stitching, and photos.

Instead, Do This: In the Layers panel, the type layer should be directly above the background paper or whatever you are typing on. So, if you want your type to appear on a journaling card, then the type layer needs to be directly above the card layer in the Layers panel.

2013-0319-blog-example5Journaling Design Disaster #5: Schizophrenic Steve
I know you love fonts. They are readily available, fabulously free, and super-duper fun. But, putting too many different fonts on one scrapbook page is enough to drive a brain bonkers.

Instead, Do This: The most calming page will have one font for the title and a contrasting font for the journaling. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but when in doubt, stick with a single font.

How about you? Can you think of other journaling disasters? If so, feel free to add to my list. It is by no means complete.




Jen White

The scrapbook page I used for these examples is part of the QuickAlbum created with Danyale Lewis’ Duty, Honor, Country kit. This kit is currently available in our store.



jenwhite-48x48Author: Jen White | jen@digitalscrapper.com
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48 Responses

  1. Judy Collier
    | Reply

    I loved this! So many helpful hints. I want to add that I carefully choose when I will use italics — I use them when quoting someone or to highlight a keyword or phrase.

  2. Barbara Ostlund
    | Reply

    Thanks for the great tips and humor!

  3. Barbara Ostlund
    | Reply

    At least one well-known word processor program will also check for grammar errors like “there/their” IF you have indicated that you want the application to check grammar.

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Great advice Barbara! Elements users should definitely check out their spelling/grammer in a wordprocessing program (such as MS Word) or even in an Email program, if that’s easier. Photoshop users have a built-in spell checker. 🙂

  4. Julie (MaggieMae)
    | Reply

    Thank you so much for these great journaling tips – I am totally guilty of putting my text layer at the top and won’t do it anymore!! These tips are awesome!

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Me, too! Since journaling is usually the last thing I add to the page, the layer will typically end up at the top of the Layers panel. If I had a nickel for every time I had to move it down, I’d be a wealthy woman!

  5. Jen
    | Reply

    I enjoyed reading the tips and having examples to go along! I always learn something new here at Digital Scrapper!

  6. Doris
    | Reply

    Great tips. Love your humor. You’re so funny!

  7. Christine
    | Reply

    One, that I consider a design nightmare is the use of justify in journaling.
    Some think a text box should be filled evenly but what happens is that large spaces appear between words. I always use left-lining. I think it looks better to have one side straight than two and words spread out unevenly.

  8. Kori Dorn
    | Reply

    Sorry Jen, but I think the drop shadow looks great, much more readable and I love fancy fonts. If I were doing my scrapping for hire or for publishing, maybe I’d pick a simple serif or sans serif font, however I do this for me, so I pick a font that speaks to me and I’ll add drop shadows, make italics or anything else I want. This aren’t disasters, but personal preferences and people shouldn’t be made to feel bad or wrong about what makes their inner artist happy. (You know me, I’m not a beginner, I’ve been doing this for years too!) Just my 2 cents. I do agree with all your other point. I love all your tuts, thanks for all your tips!

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Go for it, Kori! I think it’s AWESOME that you are confident in what you like!! 😀

  9. Shirl
    | Reply

    Great article, Jen. You always have such good information and i love your style. Keep it up!

  10. Linda
    | Reply

    Thanks for the great info. How I wish I had known this when I started scrapping. I look at my first books and cringe. I have this great urge to go back and redo them. But then I wouldn’t get anything new done. It’s a journey.

  11. carol DuBois
    | Reply

    Thank you again for wonderful information.


  12. patchas
    | Reply

    Another disaster is using a script font in all caps for your title. Thanks for the great reminders here.

  13. Dorrie
    | Reply

    Jen, this was good solid information and I can hardly wait for the next series on “Avoidable Design Disasters”.

  14. Victoria
    | Reply

    Great article… but you forgot ALL-CAPS AGATHA.

  15. Bernice Gaieny
    | Reply

    Thanks for all the good information. I am new to all of this so anything is great help.

  16. Wendy B
    | Reply

    Great tips, Jan–and I love your touch of humor, as always! I try to view my pages at 33%, which equals about the size that a 12×12 page will look like when printed, because sometimes a font looks so small when I look at it using the Ctrl O. And, I admit I have been guilty of hanging out with Floating Fred on occasion. Thanks for being a friend and looking out for us! 🙂

    Wendy B

  17. Jessie
    | Reply

    Okay…I’m feeling like a real DUNCE!!! In addition to using a drop shadow and too large of a font and not making it on the right layer, I don’t understand about viewing the layout at 33% to check font readability. I have PSE 8.

    Do I start out with my layout with the fit to screen and go to view and type in 33%??? Normally, I use the “control + O” to see my layout….so what do I do from there???

    Sorry for the dumb question!

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Hi Jessie. Please don’t feel like a dunce. 🙁 We are all at different stages in our scrapbooking and Photoshop journey. It’s not a contest and there are no winners.

      The view percentage should be located in the bottom left corner of your document. If you double click on it, it will allow you to enter in a percentage. Hope this helps. xoxo

      • Jessie
        | Reply

        PERFECT! Thanks, Jen!

  18. MG
    | Reply

    Good tips on fonts, but you may want to refrain from using “schizophrenic” as a negative adjective. You wouldn’t say “Diabetic Dan” or “Retarded Ruth”. Food for thought.

  19. Barb
    | Reply

    Ah, what a day brightener Jen! Not only the great advice but how you make me laugh! Thank you!

  20. Mary
    | Reply

    Thank you for the TIP! on journaling. I have just started digital scrapbooking. I have been working on the Digital Scapper Classes for a year and a half and I am still not done. The worst thing is typing. Like many I have no idea how big things will be on my page, until I print the page. Then I have to go in and change everything – it looks great on the screen but much to large on the 12×12 page. I will definitely use the 33% rule.

  21. Janine
    | Reply

    Jen – I really appreciate and love your fun sense of humor. Your information is excellent and you always give advice in such a nice way. Thank you for all you do for us.

  22. Jackie
    | Reply

    Oooooooohhhhh, GREAT tips, both!! Thank you so much :).

  23. Kathy
    | Reply

    Thanks for the tips. Very understandable….I also have
    problems with font size…

  24. stampsalot
    | Reply

    With all the options available to us, it’s very tempting to put a lot of them to use on every page. Yours is a good reminder to go easy and streamline. Thanks for the tips.

  25. Jana
    | Reply

    I hae problems with figuring out where to put my Journaling on the page. I don’t think I have seen a class that helps with that. I am guilty of using too big a font size. I make 12×12 pages and it is hard to judge if the font size is correct or not. And then making it look good on the page in the right spot.Thanks Jen I always love reading your funny and informative posts. :0)

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Hi Jana. Thanks for your kind words. 😀

      Just got done replying to Jackie when I received your comment. Viewing your page at 33% should give you a good idea of how your journaling will look once printed out.

      As far as where to put the journaling – that can have a gazillion answers. But, for the most part, I say . . . When in doubt, snuggle up! Putting your journaling up against your photo will keep the viewer from having to jump all over the page in order to get the whole story. Like I said, there are a gazillion other formulas, but give this one a try and see if it helps. 😀

      • Jana
        | Reply

        Thank you Jen I will give it a try.

  26. Jackie
    | Reply

    Thanks for these tips Jen! Here’s something that I’m not sure of regarding fonts: Let’s say you design your page @ 12X12, but later resize it to print @ 8X8. Seems I’ve tried this with a 12 point Tahoma, for instance, then find it hard to read when resized and printed. Any tips or guidelines for this type of thing?

    • Trish
      | Reply

      Our font expert, Darcy, recommends viewing your layout at 25% to see how readable your font will be at its current size.

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Hi Jackie. GREAT question! I know lots of scrapbookers who do this very thing. Unfortunately, however, there is not magic formula because of all the different styles of fonts available.

      One tip I have for combatting this problem is to always use a text box when typing out your journaling. That way it is easier to go back later and resize the type without having to reformat the lines or move their position.

      I did a tutorial once showing how to view your scrapbook page at in-real-life size. This tutorial now lives in the Premier Member area. Most people found that viewing their scrapbook page at 33% gave them the most realistic view.

      So, before sizing your page down, view it at 33% and see if you can still read your font. If not, simply increase the size of the font until it looks natural to you.

      Hope this helps. xoxo

      • Christine
        | Reply

        Oh..typography my favorite subject! I’m old school and learned to draw fonts by hand from a very strict but famously talented Russian typographic teacher. 🙂
        Scaling fonts is one of my pet peeves. This is just my personal opinion and OCD behavior, I don’t want convert anyone to adopt this:-) My comment must be seen as pure
        In my opinion fonts should never be scaled. If I did I would have nightmares of the Russian teacher coming after me with the shedder to destroy my blood, sweat and tears homework.

        A good font is drawn at a certain height and width, scaling them artificially will not improve readability or looks. I also scale my layouts or my templates to 8×8 or even 6×6. The templates I scale before I start designing, not afterwards. Than I add the journaling. That way I type the fonts at their correct and intended height and width. I hope I didn’t confuse too many people. Off my soapbox now , thanks for listening. 🙂

        • Jen White
          | Reply

          Great advice, Christine, to add journaling after resizing your page! 😀

  27. Sandy
    | Reply

    This was super informative. I loved your format: example – problem – solution. Right to the point and so easy to understand and pickup on some that I have been guilty of. Thank you Jen for a very informative and well presented article!

  28. Karen Diamond
    | Reply

    These are wonderful AND so TRUE!! Thanks for posting them!

  29. Tora
    | Reply

    Thank you for these great tips 🙂

  30. Ida
    | Reply

    good tips to consider when making a layout that includes journaling!

  31. Cara
    | Reply

    This is great! I wondered about the font size at times and combining fonts is a pet peeve. Thanks for sharing.

  32. Erika
    | Reply

    As always super informative and fun to learn from you. Thanks for taking the time to compile this.

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Thanks, Erika! And you’re welcome. 😀

  33. Lorraine
    | Reply

    Another journaling disaster that I fall into when I get into a hurry is to not take just a moment to read it over, make sure that things are spelled correctly and that it makes sense!

    • Jen White
      | Reply

      Oooo. ME TOO! My spelling is embarrassingly lacking!

      • Jinny_10
        | Reply

        If you type your journalling in a word processing program, it will spot errors in spelling and punctuation, also word spacing. You can correct errors there, then copy it into the textbox on your page. Of course you have to be aware of words that sound the same but have different meanings, like “there” and “their”. Word processor spell checkers will not catch those!

        • Barbara Ostlund
          | Reply

          At least one common word processor program also checks for grammatical errors and will catch there/their-type mistakes if you have activated the grammar checker.

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