Part 4

How Does All That News Get On the Pages?

Eventually, it must happen: The editor must finally sit down with all those bits and pieces he’s accumulated and make pages out of them. He must assemble them into a coherent whole. He must produce...a bulletin! What else must he do?

Edit—Check the various bits of input for grammar, punctuation, spelling and good syntax. Do the pieces read well? The best test of this is to read them aloud. If questions of grammar or style arise, check references. The PROBE Style Manual (Merchandise Catalog No. 4356) and the Associated Press Stylebook are good starting places. Look for opportunities to tighten phrases, eliminate unnecessary words, improve meaning, enhance impact. This is editing!

Prioritize—Decide on orders of importance. Cookie recipes and birthday/anniversary notices do not belong on the front page. What does? Try for timely reports of recent or upcoming significant activities. Failing that, use the editorials with the most oomph. Arrange the rest of the stories on subsequent pages in declining importance. Cookie recipes, if you must, go way in the back.

Format—Decide how each page shall look. Text the full width of the page? Two or three columns of equal width? Unequal-width columns balanced on the page? Justified or ragged-right columns? What sort of fonts for headlines and sub-heads? It sounds complicated, but once an editor has settled on a few standard page arrangements, he performs this task almost without thought.

Fillers—It’s prudent to have on hand a supply in varying lengths to fill awkward blank spaces, as they are most certain to occur. Fillers may be seasonal graphics, jokes, bon mots, artwork, cartoons, borrowed pieces, humor, etc.

Sources—As an editor, you should train your mind and your eyes to spot bits of usable filler as you read. Newspapers, other periodicals and especially other barbershop bulletins are rich sources. But copyrighted materials should be approached with the same caution as copyrighted music. Its use is illegal without prior consent. Bits of artwork appearing in short-duration newspaper ads (sale ads, seasonal decorations) are usually copyright-free, but beware those containing copyrighted logos or figures.

Safe Sources—Most of what is found in other barbershop bulletins is quite safe to reproduce unless it's indicated that it is copyrighted and “reprinted with permission.” That permission is a one-time-only grant and doesn’t extend to you. Stories and features obviously written by other barbershoppers are invariably fair game for copying. In fact, their authors are usually flattered to find their work reproduced in another bulletin. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” However, be sure to give credit: author, bulletin, editor, chapter.

Getting Safe—Cartoon panels in newspapers and magazines are always copyrighted. Don’t use them without permission. Syndicate owners of the copyright sometimes allow the use of their cartoons and waive the customary use fee, but you must plead your own individual case.

Note the name of the syndicate, then telephone 1-800-555- 1212 (800 number information service,) and ask if there is a number listed for it. If there is, call it and state your case. Emphasize that yours is a free bulletin intended solely for members of a charitable, nonprofit organization. Be cordial; be persuasive. You may overcome initial reluctance.

Playing Fair—Professional writers take a dim view of plagiarism; it’s stealing from their purses. However, small portions of their work may be used without violating copyright laws or overstepping the bounds of propriety. You may, for example, print, “Herman Thud, in his book, Life in The Wilds of Kenosha, says, ‘Actually, there is no life in Kenosha’.” You may also print, “Herman Thud writes in his book, Life in The Wilds of Kenosha, that there is presently no life in Kenosha, and had there been, it’s been extinct for eons.”

The first example quotes directly from Herman’s book. If brief, it’s legal. The second example paraphrases the book and may go on for moderate length without violating copyright law. It’s not too tricky. Just ensure Herman gets credit for the words if you quote directly; for the original thoughts if you paraphrase. Never quote or paraphrase without proper attribution. That’s theft.

The Writing Engine

The machine the editor uses to transcribe to paper the information he’s collected is vital. Its condition, care and judicious use will be the determining factors in his bulletin’s final appearance.

Every editor deserves at least a good typewriter. If he doesn’t have one, his chapter should get one. There are many sophisticated electronic typewriters on the market today, and they are priced at a very few hundred dollars. Virtually every chapter can afford one, considering such a machine may also be used to enhance the appearance of chapter correspondence, programs, fliers and the like.


Aged manual machines: There’s nothing wrong with venerable Smith-Corona or Underwood mechanical typewriters. They can do the job in fine fashion provided that the ribbon is fresh, type faces are clean and type bars are adjusted to strike the paper evenly and with equal force.

Simple electric typewriters: Much the same advice applies.

Electronic typewriters: Versatile and inexpensive. Many will type in 10, 12 and 15 pitch, provide bold and italic attributes, center and right-justify automatically, and allow whole-word or whole-line correction. Some even have limited spell-checking capability; a few provide a thesaurus. Most require minimal maintenance.

Personal Computer printers: Sophisticated devices, these, and some, with appropriate computer software, are capable of producing professional looking pages. Some offer a bewildering variety of type fonts and an equally bewildering variety of font sizes.

Beware this wealth of choices. Select and stick with a modest variety of fonts and sizes for headlines, sub-heads, body text, special emphasis and the like. Avoid gimmicky fonts such as Script, Victorian and Old English. They’re suitable for personal correspondence and wedding announcements, but they’re difficult to read in barbershop bulletins—and rather bush league.


Should It
Format, in this context, refers to the way text and other printed components are arranged on the page.

How many pages: Depends on the needs of the chapter, the depth of its purse, and the resources and willingness of the editor. Four pages printed on letter-size paper (two sheets, printed both sides) is a nice starting point. Eight to 12 pages allow for just about everything a capable editor, editing prudently, needs to publish..

White space: The portions of a page not occupied by text and other printed matter. White space includes all margins, gutters (the space between adjoining columns) and blank areas in graphics, cartoons, etc.

Well-balanced white space is vital to the appearance of a printed page. A page with too little white space is considered “dark.”

A too dark page is unpleasing to the eye and intimidates the reader. He is reluctant to embark on reading the page’s contents. Major contributors to page darkness are inadequate side margins, skimpy top and bottom margins, crowding of separate stories, over-long paragraphs, and inadequate indents. Text that runs the full width of the page for a considerable length is also a major contributor.

To column or not to column: Generally speaking, columned pages look better. You’re not publishing a book. All significant news periodicals use columned pages. If you choose not to use columns, limit paragraphs to as few lines as possible and indent deeply—better still, double space between paragraphs.

The two-column format: the easiest to manage. It is also the one most often used in barbershop bulletins, so “borrowing” a story from another bulletin is a simple matter of “cut-and-paste” onto your page. The usual two- column format on legal or letter size paper (both 8 inches wide) is two 3-inch-wide columns with a -inch gutter between and -inch side margins. This format, with adequate top and bottom margins, provides good balance of white space to dark space and is pleasing to the eye. More than two columns: A three-column format is possible. Four columns become difficult to handle. Three or more columns dictate that lines of text must be shorter, and margins and gutters narrower. If right justification is used (more about that later) there is a risk of “rivers of white.” They are the obvious diagonal alignment of spaces between words on several successive lines of text. Unless a very small type font is used, four-column format should be avoided. Otherwise, there may be occasions of only two or three short words on a line, with awkward white spaces between them.

Justification: “Justified” print means simply that the last word of every line extends to the right margin of its column or page. The alignment is usually achieved by inserting extra spaces at random between the words on the line until they extend to the right margin. Non-justified type is usually called “ragged-right.”

The jury is still out on this one. Some newspapers mix justified and ragged-right columns on the same page. Others adhere strictly to one or the other. The National Geographic uses both. The National Inquirer, should you care, sticks with justified columns. Some experts say the human eye tracks more readily from one line to the next with ragged-right text. Multi- columned pages can tolerate narrower gutters with justification. The “rivers of white” mentioned above are more prevalent with justified type. The final choice lies with each editor. (Note that this page is justified.)

Justification is easy with all computers and most electronic typewriters; it’s a built-in option. With manual and simple electric typewriters, justification is another matter.

The complete text must be typed with the number of spaces remaining at the end of each line noted. (Usually by typing in Xs until the margin stop is reached. Then the text must be retyped with the appropriate number of spaces (count the Xs) inserted between words. It’s tedious, but the results are often pleasing.

Type fonts and sizes: For the owners of mechanical and simple electric typewriters, this is not a consideration. They have no choice. Electronic typewriters offer slight variety; most computer printers offer a wide one. Briefly stated, a font is all the characters of a given size in a particular type family (example: Courier). Font sizes may vary from barely readable four-point to glaring headline size, the kind usually used in newspapers to announce disasters. This page is printed in 10-point Times Roman. A more complete discussion of fonts is contained in the Appendix to this manual, under “Typography.”

Attributes: For this discussion, attributes are ways to modify printed text for added emphasis. On manual typewriters, the choices are underlines or all capitals. More sophisticated machines add boldface and italics. Excessive use of any attribute results in distracting copy that is difficult to read.

The PROBE Style Manual (note the italic attribute) discusses bold face and capitals on page six; italic and underline on page 14. Not discussed in the Style Manual, but acceptable in many fields: The use of boldface or italics to imply stress on a particular word or phrase. (What is that? What is that? What is that?) You will find numerous such uses in this manual.

Attributes to emphasize a member’s name are often seen in barbershop bulletins. It is acceptable. It causes the name to “jump from the page” at the reader. Again, moderation is advised. Use the chosen attribute at the first mention of the name only. Do not apply the attribute to connectives between names (“and” “or”).

Headlines: There are a number of devices to make a printed page more interesting to its reader. Most common, and known to all editors, is the headline. Ideally, headlines should be printed in larger type, and perhaps in a contrasting font. Headlines may be enhanced with subheads: statements or phrases that further draw the reader into the story. When possible, subheads should be printed in the same font as the headline, but in an obviously smaller size. (But still larger than the print used for the story text.)

Other devices that may “jazz up” a page are “rules,” vertical or horizontal lines to separate columns or non- related pieces of text. Rules, or enclosed boxes, may also be used to define and separate “call-outs,” brief quotes from the text or an editorial comment to draw attention to an important point:

Rules, boxes and call-outs add interest.

“Kickers” precede a headline (usually a line above, in contrasting type) and contain a brief phrase that summarizes the headline:

A remarkable achievement:

High school quartet wins district

Drop caps, as shown in this short paragraph, are another effective way to add visual interest to a page of text.

(Note: My html skills do not include the use of drop caps at this point...but large first letters - as in the "note" above, are also possible.)

Also effective in limited use are headlines or boxed items rendered in reverse type: Black on white.


Elsewhere, type fonts and sizes may be varied, with moderation, in headlines and subheads. Too-frequent variations, particularly on the same page, may result in visual confusion for the reader.

Unfortunately, these visual enhancements are more readily available to the computer-equipped editor. Those in the Smith-Corona crowd may, however, approximate them by using a little ingenuity. Rub-on transfer letters and ruling pens (see Part 6) can make some of them possible.

Headlines are the means to draw a reader to read further into stories. They should be short, concise, and contain a verb. "WE QUIT" is a perfectly acceptable headline. Rarely will a reader pass up the story without wanting to find out who quit what.

Finally, if the selected format results in facing pages (as in newspapers and magazines,) place the more important stories on the right-hand page. A reader's attention is naturally directed first to that page.

Additional hints on formatting may be found on the bulletin contest Layout and Reproduction judging form included in the appendix of this manual


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