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You talked, we listened on issues of redesign

October 05, 2008|By JAKE WOMER

By now, you probably have noticed our new look. Today's Herald-Mail is the first Sunday edition in our narrower format.

We launched the new design Monday, and we've made adjustments since then based on feedback from readers.

The biggest change has been type size.

On Monday, we debuted a new type in stories. In newspaper parlance, this is called "body type." By late Monday morning, after several reader calls, we knew the body type had to be larger, so we increased the size to what it was before the redesign.

Also, readers said our page of sports scores and statistics was too hard to read, so we changed that to a less condensed font beginning Saturday. Unfortunately, it's still small - as has been the case for decades - to fit in all of the minutia sports fans want. However, it is easier to read today than it was last week.

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Several readers also said the comics and puzzles were too small. We increased the size of those features beginning with Saturday's edition.

Readers also said they wanted the puzzles on separate pages so that one person could work the crossword while another takes on sudoku.

We accommodated as many suggestions as possible, and that has meant a reshuffling of several daily features.

If you're looking for some favorite comics or puzzles, here is where they can be found Mondays through Saturdays:

· The comic strips "Mary Worth," "Sally Forth," "Rex Morgan M.D." and "Apartment 3-G" now are on the Daily Break page with advice columnists, the horoscopes and a crossword puzzle.

·The conservative comic strip "Mallard Fillmore" and the liberal comic strip "Doonesbury" have moved to the Opinion page.

· The other comics remain on the two main comics pages, which now also are home to the word sleuth and sudoku.

· The bridge column is in the classified section, which also has a second crossword.

Also, several readers expressed displeasure with the drastic reduction in our stock listings. Early next week, that listing will have much greater depth than it did last week. We asked readers to let us know the specific stocks and mutual funds they follow. Those will be added to our daily stock listings this week.

Decisions such as altering the stock listings were not made lightly. We based the changes on readership surveys and tested them with focus groups. But the true test is what the majority of readers think.

Several readers called in last week to say they like the changes while several others made the above suggestions.

This process was necessitated by the skyrocketing cost of newsprint - the paper on which The Herald-Mail is printed.

To avoid raising the price of the newspaper, we decided to reduce the amount of paper we use by reducing the width of each page by 1 1/2 inches.

The reformatting has meant major changes to our press. The pressroom crew put a lot of work into the press conversion leading up to the launch, and is continuing to work to resolve production issues.

This is a significant transition for every department at The Herald-Mail, and I thank readers for their input and their patience.

Jake Womer is executive editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7594, or at jakew@herald-mail.com.

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