• Part of a roofline shows from one building. Trees with fall color leaves on them fill most of the photo. A lamp-post is near center of the photo.

    Harpers Ferry Center


A grid is the backbone of the system. It helps organize the placement of text and illustrations in a consistent manner so there is no need to redesign basic components for every new job. This frees the park staff to concentrate on subject matter.

Site bulletins should not look like a book, or a magazine, or be confused with the park newspaper or the full color park brochure. Information is organized vertically in columns, with major subjects divided into sections that run across the sheet. This simple horizontal structure helps the reader access information with a minimum of time and effort. Three graphic devices help define the horizontal arrangement: the black title band at the top, the 3-point divider bars, and the main titles with their distinctive bold typeface. Because the text is lighter in tone than the black horizontal elements, a sharp division occurs between titles and text, a contrast that makes it easier for readers to find and use information. This approach also simplifies the layout process.

The system is designed to be printed on white paper with black ink. This creates a highly readable publication that reinforces its identification with the National Park Service graphic system. The black appears more dense and rich, it offers a distinguished, straightforward, no nonsense look, and it offers the greatest visual contrast. Use of colored paper or colored ink reduces legibility of the text and the impact of the piece and is not recommended. Full color can be used but is usually prohibitively expensive. Spot color can be effectively used to enhance maps and illustrations.

The appearance of the entire unfolded page, as well as the cover presentation when folded, should be considered during the basic design. The system also makes use of white space to open up the appearance of the entire page, making it more appealing to readers. Avoid the temptation to fill all available space. A rule of thumb is: one-third text, one-third art or photos, and one-third white space.

The simplicity and effectiveness of the system are based on these design elements. Therefore, to maintain consistency, it should be used as designed. While the system makes some basic design decisions, most are left to the creativity of the park staff. However, the system needs to be learned and practiced before breaking the rules. See "The Creative Process" (Information Design, p. 1).

The general ideas to keep in mind when designing with this system are:

  • Let the system make as many design decisions for you as possible.
  • Use the grid as a tool to help you with the rest.
  • Strive for horizontal arrangement.
  • Keep it simple and open.
  • Eliminate the unessential.

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