Adoption, promotion and implementation
3. The product – contents of an AONB Management Plan
3.4. Format and presentation
3.4.1. Design matters
AONB partnerships will almost certainly want to employ the services of a professional designer, at least to advise on layout, if not to contribute to the entire production process. Designers can only be as good as the brief they are given, and so authors need to explain carefully what they hope to achieve with the Plan, in terms of impression and readability. Avoid trying to do the designer’s job for them, by specifying too precisely what the finished product will look like. The following advice is intended to indicate the range of issues that need to be discussed with the designer, particularly for those unused to producing this type of document.
First impressions of the Plan are important. This is true both for the consultation draft as well as the final Plan. Content and design are interdependent, so the broad features of a design should be determined at the same time as decisions are made about Plan content. It is important that these decisions are made in the light of the intended readership and functions of the Plan.
Issues to be considered include:
•Format: A4 is universally popular because experience has proved it
to be convenient in many situations - in the field, in a briefcase, at a meeting, or reading on a train. In book form, portrait format also tends to be favoured, although many Action Plans in particular are produced in landscape format allowing a number of columns (covering actions, date, by whom, code etc.) to be easily accommodated.
•Font size: Very small fonts make life difficult for people whose
eyesight is less than perfect, and make the Plan more intimidating to many readers. 11 pt is to be favoured for the main text, and certainly no smaller than 10 pt. A hierarchy of font sizes should be used for chapter headings, sub-headings, and for captions to photographs or figures.
•Columns and white space: Two columns per page (or three if using
landscape format) increase readability, and one wide margin (possibly used for headings, signposts or callouts) may also make the plan more attractive.
•Colour: Full colour throughout may be prohibitively expensive,
although this may be seen justified expenditure. It could be adopted at least for the cover and perhaps some internal pages. Other pages could be just black and one colour which can be used at a range of tones. If you expect people to photocopy parts of the plan, or download it from your website and then print it out perhaps in black and white (see Appendix 4 on page 104), then ensure that all text is in black.
•Maps: A great deal of information can be summarised on well
presented maps, and they can also convey a sense of place very effectively. Maps can show:
–The AONB in a regional context.
–Landscape Character Areas.
–Historical Landscape Assessment.
–Designated nature conservation sites.
–Historical and archaeological sites.
–Physical attributes e.g. topography, geology, geomorphology,
rivers and lakes.
–Countryside recreation sites, e.g. country parks, picnic sites,
–Public Rights of Way and permissive paths, including National
Trails, national cycle network and other long distance routes. All maps are copyright and the permission of the copyright holder is required to reproduce them. Many local authorities will have a licence allowing them to copy Ordnance Survey maps. The owner of the copyright should be clearly indicated on the map.
•Photographs and line drawings: These will add greatly to the
overall impression of the Plan, and can be used as a vehicle to sell what is special about the AONB.
•Pullouts and pockets: These are useful ways of getting round the
limitations of adopting an A4 format. A3 pullouts are particularly useful for maps, actions plans or summary tables. A pocket may be useful for documents which will need to be updated, for example an annual Action Plan.
•Publication on the Internet: This can be a cheap way to make the
Plan accessible to many people. It does however have design implications, for example the use of columns means that readers will constantly have to scroll up and down the screen if they don’t want to print off a copy. Appendix 4 Information technology in AONB management on page 104 provides further information. Budget considerations will quickly come to the fore when considering design and printing options, and the quality of the product obtained tends to reflect how much money is allocated to the job. When budgeting for this element of Plan production costs of design/editing, illustration and photography, as well as printing, should be taken into account.
Finally never underestimate the importance, and time required, for thorough proof-reading.
The Norfolk Coast annual Action Plan is stapled and photocopied card and paper which can be produced each year at very little cost.
Both the full Plan and any summary document should be written in plain accessible English. Long sentences should be avoided, and the document should be as concise as possible. Use only widely
understood words, or where this in not possible offer a clear definition of any jargon or local terms. A professional editor or writer (e.g. a local journalist) can help with both drafting and a final edit to ensure the document is easy to read.
To an extent the writing style will have to be a compromise, given the different audiences of the Plan. Local authority planners, for example, will be looking for absolute clarity, perhaps in the style of their own Development Plan. A more persuasive, journalistic style might be appropriate and most effective with individual landowners. The whole document is presented in landscape format. The back pocket contains
the Action Plan and a leaflet detailing links between the Kent Downs AONB and the Boulonnais ‘Parc Naturel Régional’ in France. There is space in the
pocket for progress reports and updated Action Plans as they are produced.