Introduction: How to Read ReadyMade Magazine

I love ReadyMade magazine and have been a semi-frequent purchaser, and now subscriber, since issue 5. Reading about other projects is inspiring stuff. I rarely make any of the projects, I'm usually inspired to do something else, but it's still awesome.

The only damper on this parade of Awesomeness is that the instructions can be tough to read. So let's fix that.

Step 1: Open It Up

Open up an issue of ReadyMade and go to the project section, the meat of the magazine where you can read instructions for making something cool. This one is for making a camera mount for your dashboard.

On the web there is infinite space to work with. In a magazine the writers get one or two pictures and a few hundred words to describe their project. To get the most out of their column inches, the folks at ReadyMade cram all the instructions back-to-back, forming one solid column of text.

This technique is annoying when reading because it's easy to get lost on the page. When actually doing a project and going back and forth from work to reading it's even worse. This affects me more than most since I've always had a hard time reading text on a page to begin with.

To make this easier, I like to add a visual aid so that my eyes don't get lost.

Step 2: Highlight

The visual aid is the yellow hue from a highlighter. If you're in school you probably already have one and if you work in an office you can find one near the Post-Its. Just make sure you put it back when you're done, OK?

All you're going to do is highlight every even step in the process. So get started by highlighting the second step.

Step 3: Keep Highlighting

Like I said, you're highlighting every even step, so highlight step 4, step 6, step 8,...

Less than a minute later you'll be done!

Step 4: Get Ready to Rock

With all of the yellow shapes on the page it's easier to find your last position and get back into the instructions. Here's another example with the process applied to a tutorial on building a chair.

It's a simple trick, but it's helped me out a ton in wading though all the copy.

Comments

author
j a y . t e e . (author)2007-04-27

Dearest Fungus Amungus (and friends),

Jen from ReadyMade mag here. We RM staffers just wanted to let you know that your concerns have not gone unheard! The feedback is mucho appreciated—and we're trying to figure out how to resolve the length problems with our project instructions.

In the meantime, your wish has been granted: To say "thanks" your editorial eagle eye, we're extending your subscription by a year. ;)

author

Four years hence, and your layouts--and magazine--are still worthless.

author

Wouldn't it be good to do this with some light background shading for every other step in process of making the magazine? I just thought I'd ask since someone from the magazine dropped in above. It's done a lot online, in long tables, etc. and even a light shading really helps! Plus it would save people having to highlight their own...

author

Hey, thanks! Love the mag, it's just that I have a hard time focusing on large blocks of text. Do you need my info?

author
underskrift (author)2011-03-06

Readymade has fallen into the same trap most magazines have: design rich, content poor. Popular Mechanics and other DIY mags of yesteryear had much clearer instructions and the simple illustrations made projects easy to make. No matter how "hip" Readymade may be, they will never top the innovation of Mr. Hi Sibley, among others.

author
coolguy (author)2008-10-23

I don't know what good practices for writing magazine articles are, but good practices for websites are to break the information out into smaller parts and eliminate long-hand sentences where they aren't necessary.

If you pull out the information and present it in a format that is easy to skim or pick out individual parts (ex. bullet list, delimited parts) then you have a much higher chance that the people reading will go through the whole thing and not just pass over it.

Organizing content in this manner is a surefire way to increase conversion times (people stay on the site longer) and lose fewer readers. With this practice becoming practically a standard of web publishing and more people moving to the internet for information/entertainment, expect to lose more readers to impatience because the content isn't easy to pick apart like a website.

Look at the way this site is done. It's hard not to camp out here for hours link-hopping and checking out cool stuff. I haven't been on since before they added the PDF feature, talk about an awesome idea.

author
sabbott (author)2007-08-11

This is actually a good approach for any wall of text that you need to deal with in smaller bites.

author
randofo (author)2007-03-22

This is deserving of a free subscription.

author
fungus amungus (author)randofo2007-03-23

I already have one, but an extension would be nice.

author
JakeTobak (author)2007-03-16

Why don't they just print the magazine on yellow paper?

author
zachninme (author)JakeTobak2007-03-16

Why don't they just add a line break every step?

author
fungus amungus (author)zachninme2007-03-16

It's a tight fit as it is. Even with a line break so that all the numbers are on the left side you'd lose so much space that a few steps of the process would have to be cut.

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Bio: I like to make things for the internets. I also sell a pretty cool calendar at supamoto.co. You'll like it.
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