Text and textboxes on pictures

Increasingly, newspapers are also placing text over pictures. And sometimes it works.

Notice that the San Jose Mercury News places a text box right on top of the picture. But it doesn’t look bad. That’s because there is very little activity in the picture. You can grasp the picture in one glance. The next thing the eyes will look at is the box, which will direct you to the story. This is a good use of a block of text. It works because the picture is simple and there is not much to be distracted from by having the text placed on the picture. (SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE)

Below you will see my favorite use of text over a front page picture. It’s short, poignant and does not distract but actually adds a lot to the impact of the picture. Well done Huntsville Times.

The Bradenton Herald chose to print a clean picture of the Challenger explosion. Does the picture need text over it? I think this works. It is safe and does not distract. The headline/quote above the picture helps evoke a feeling of connection to the picture and successfully identifies the picture without actually placing text on the picture.

All three of these newspapers used the same picture in different ways. One placed a box over the picture, one added just a little text and ran it across the whole front page, while the last played it safe with a smaller picture and no text. Safe, but a little boring. When there is not too much of a danger of distracting from an important element in a picture, there comes a time when it is worth the risk to go ahead and put that text on the picture. Please, be careful and don’t put text where it isn’t needed or wanted. Otherwise, you will annoy your readers…and me.

All front pages taken from Newseum.com.


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