September 13, 2000

From the Editor

Most PAW editors, wrote then-editor Lanny Jones '66 in 1973, "have fallen victim to deep-seated urges to tinker with the magazine's cover." You're holding the latest proof of that observation -although, admittedly, PAW's new design is the result of a thorough overhaul rather than Saturday-in-the-garage tinkering.

When renowned designer Tom Carnase came into our offices with the first of his proposals for PAW's new look, he showed us six potential covers. Four of them sported the word Princeton, large and bold and centered across the top of the page. Two showed variations on a logo, sophisticated, blocky, and orange, in the upper left-hand corner.

We immediately rejected the logo. "No way," we said. "Alumni would never go for it. Too radical. Forget it."

But as we discussed the goals for our new look, that interlocking P-A-W kept popping back up. We wanted the cover to be visually powerful, to announce with authority that here was a magazine with a difference. Given our new, closer financial ties to the university, we were determined to emphasize our continuing independence, and the idea of establishing our own identity as PAW - which, after all, is the way we've been known for years, even back when we really were a weekly - was very appealing.

Finally, of course, we were looking for something beautiful - even in orange.

As we debated, we spread out on the floor all the alumni magazines from all the Ivies and beyond. Every last one of them had the name of its institution large and bold and centered across the top of the page. And suddenly the choice seemed clear. PAW isn't like any other alumni magazine: it's published more frequently, its Class Notes are more personal, its letters more contentious. Why, then, should it look like every other magazine?

We gulped and made the call. "We'll go with the logo," we told Tom.

Once we'd made the big decision on the cover, the rest was easy. Carnase Inc. custom-tailored a typeface for us to give PAW better legibility without sacrificing words for white space. The Carnase designers suggested occasionally silhouetting photos - cutting them out - to add interest to otherwise pedestrian art. And they laid the entire magazine over a comfortable grid that keeps the design consistent but still allows for surprises.

In Jones's essay on PAW's history, he made the ominous aside that "various cover designs have made brief appearances, only to sink under tidal waves of alumni dissent." Although we think you'll agree that PAW's new look is spectacular, we're prepared for some thunder and heavy rains. We just hope you spare us the tsunami.