Covers: photos or images and decorative elements

Our third foray into report covers and their patterns of information, layout and design takes up the use of photos and decorative elements. We return to the eleven reports discussed earlier  as well as the second visit where we pored over eleven surveys by U.S. law firms in 2017. 1 Our methodology assigned photos and decorative elements on covers to a primary location on a nine-cell grid.

All but one of the reports sport a photo or image on the cover (Baker McKenzie being the sole exception). Five of the photos or images tie closely to the topic of the survey (Foley Lardner shows a car’s dashboard, Haynes Boone an oil field pumpjack, Ropes Gray a stylized map of the world, Seyfarth Shaw a cityscape, and White Case a striking shot of a giant mining truck). Four others selected something not evidently related to the survey’s topic: Carlton Fields’ skyscraper, KL Gates’ metallic bars, Littler Mendelson’s colorful swirls, and Proskauer Rose’s radiating blue star.

The snippet hereafter clipped part of Morrison Foerster’s cover. Is it an image or a decorative element or both?

In the reports of White Case, Littler Mendelson, and KL Gates, the entire background consists of a photo. The other reports filled various portions of the cover.

The next snippet gives an example of decorative elements from Baker McKenzie. Along with the bit of circuit board there are four colored rectangles. This decorative array appears in the top-middle of the cover and to the left of the title and date.

Other decorative elements from this set of covers include a row of six small rectangles over five small rectangles in Carlton Fields, a diagonal slash of color in Haynes Boone, and a heavy black line under the title in Ropes Gray. Finally, Littler Mendelson and Seyfarth Shaw partition their covers into two rectangles.

Notes:

  1. The reports are Baker McKenzie Cloud 2017, Carlton Fields CA 2017, Foley Lardner Cars 2017, Haynes Boone Borrowing 2017, KL Gates GCDisruption 2017, Morrison Foerster GCsup 2017, Littler Mendelson Employer 2017, Proskauer Rose Empl 2017, Ropes Gray Risk 2017, Seyfarth Shaw RE 2017, and White Case Mining 2017.

Covers and their placement of years and subtitles

We can dig deeper into report covers and patterns in their information and layout. Consider the eleven reports discussed earlier  where we selected eleven surveys sponsored by U.S. law firms that published reports in 2017. 1  Here we used the same methodology of assigning year of publication and subtitles — if part of the cover — to a primary location on a nine-cell grid. For this research, subtitles are any additional text after the main title, often preceded by a colon or a new line.

Three of the firms did not put on the cover the year of the survey (KL Gates, Proskauer Rose, and Ropes Gray). In fact, KL Gates offers neither the year nor a subtitle. Therefore it does not appear on the plot below. The green dot in the middle is Foley Lardner that had the publication date but no subtitle. Three firms had both a subtitle and the date: Baker McKenzie, Carlton Fields and White Case.

As with the location of the law firm’s names and report titles, which we found before are clustered in the lower left or upper right, subtitles and years of publication also cluster in those same areas. Whether this is coincidence, group-think, or based on cognitive perception studies of how people scan pages (saccade, if you want to get technical) can’t be known.

As to co-sponsors, three of these eleven covers identify one: KL Gates (Forbesinsights), Morrison Foerster (ALM Intelligence), and Ropes Gray (FT Remark). The covers place the co-sponsors names on the left side in either the top or the bottom portion of the grid.

Notes:

  1. The survey reports are Baker McKenzie Cloud 2017, Carlton Fields CA 2017, Foley Lardner Cars 2017, Haynes Boone Borrowing 2017, KLGates GCDisruption 2017, Morrison Foerster GCsup 2017, Littler Mendelson Employer 2017, Proskauer Rose Empl 2017, Ropes Gray Risk 2017, Seyfarth Shaw RE 2017, and White Case Mining 2017.

Covers of reports, location of firm names and report titles

Covers of reports may seem at first to vary so idiosyncratically that they reject analysis. But, some common practices and patterns can be discerned. To start the analysis, we selected eleven surveys sponsored by U.S. law firms that published reports in 2017. 1 We looked for several components of covers and when we found one, we assigned it a location on a three-by-three grid in which the largest portion of the component appeared.

Translated into the plot below, the research shows the distribution of report titles, with circles colored to identify the firm in the legend below the plot, and the names of the firms in matching-color squares. If a firm placed all or most of its name in the lower left of the cover, its square appears in the lower left of the nine cells. To prevent over-plotting, where one point or square would otherwise be directly on top of another, we used a technique called \textit{jitter}\index{jitter} to separate the positions by just a little bit. The separation does not describe with precision where the title or firm name actually are on the cover.

An example will help interpret the plot. Haynes Boone’s name appears in the lower left (the green square) and its title in the same cell (the green circle). In the middle cell, three firms have placed their report’s title (Foley Lardner, Seyfarth Shaw, and White Case).

One pattern emerges immediately: the names of these 11 firms appear either in the upper right or the lower left of their respective covers. Titles were distributed more evenly with three of them appearing in the middle of the cover, four in the lower right and four in the upper right.

Eight of the reports state the title on the cover, with no design elements, whereas three of them place a colored rectangle of various sizes around the title (KL Gates, Littler Mendelson, and Seyfarth Shaw). Two of them (Littler Mendelson and White Case) actually stretch the title across much or all of the cover, their position is plotted in the cell that contains the largest portion.

As to the name of the law firm, two of the firms have small icons associated with their names (Proskauer Rose and Foley Lardner) while Littler Mendelson adds a small tagline below its firm name.

Regarding the backgrounds of the covers, six are white, three a color for the entire background (Haynes Boone, Proskauer Rose, and Ropes Gray), and two of them insert a photograph as the entire background (White Case and KL Gates).

Notes:

  1. The survey reports are Baker McKenzie Cloud 2017, Carlton Fields CA 2017, Foley Lardner Cars 2017, Haynes Boone Borrowing 2017, KLGates GCDisruption 2017, Morrison Foerster GCsup 2017, Littler Mendelson Employer 2017, Proskauer Rose Empl 2017, Ropes Gray Risk 2017, Seyfarth Shaw RE 2017, and White Case Mining 2017.