Image: British Empire and Commonwealth Museum

What’s the secret of great museum text?

Rebecca Atkinson, 11.02.2014
Ask an expert your text writing questions
What makes a great museum label? How can you create a tone of voice for your museum? What are the tricks to writing for different audiences? How can you make your blog stand out from the crowd?

Whatever your question, you can put it to an expert in Museum Practice’s monthly feature Ask the Expert.

For the March edition, Lucy Harland, the director of Lucidity Media, will be answering your questions about writing better text.

Email practice@museumsassociation.org or share your questions in the comment box below by 3 March. Answers will be published on 17 March.

Comments

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Paul Hull
MA Member
27.09.2014, 21:56
what do you think about more creative backgrounds for text e.g perspex, metals, wood or things relevant to the display. for example a dinasour exhibit could have some text written on a mock piece of bone
18.02.2014, 16:27
I want to be Member ..Tell how ?
Patrick Steel
MA Member
Website Editor, Museums Association
18.02.2014, 16:44
Hi Saeed - just click on this link: http://www.museumsassociation.org/join/professional-membership and sign up.
13.02.2014, 14:25
I am sure you have lots of advice, and knowledge about being concise etc. But my main complaint is about size and clarity for the reader. The elderly, like me, have glasses with a focus for reading of about 18 inches. Sticking information notes in 4 or 5mm high letters on a wall behind barriers, or, equally bad, down at ankle level so that you have to crawl on the floor to read them, and then cannot get up again without help, simply results in the visitor not bothering to respond to all the trouble you took to write them in the first place. This is particularly important where low illumination is required for the object. The Royal Institution in London has created a great new museum superbly laid out but the use of fancy labels in terms of size and colour made them very difficult for me to read.
So the answer is perhaps large print pamphlets or booklets for those with poor vision, or the use of auditory devices. My preference is for the printed page and large clear code numbers for the items on display with appropriate thought given to the connection between the two with case numbers etc..
I suggest labels should always be put through a vision test for a range of ages before going public.