Being interested in liturgical book binding, layout and design, I have been very interested to watch as the new editions of the English Roman Missal have come out. We have seen some very good results in some instances, particularly as some more traditional elements have re-asserted themselves again in some of these editions. That said, I think there are still further opportunities (though they do require the appropriate ecclesiastical permissions and approvals since missal production is not merely left to the private determinations of publishers -- and no doubt rightly so).
Rather than simply trying to describe that of which I speak, I thought it might be more effectual to put the proverbial pen to paper and actually produce my own design proposal. To do so I took a few pages from two parts of Roman Missal to serve as a template, using the new revised English translation of the Roman Missal.
As you will see, the idea that informs my own proposed design is one which really just takes its inspiration from our Latin rite Missal tradition (indeed, one wouldn't be far off to say that these designs are just those which have been seen in liturgical books for a very long time, applied now to the present liturgical books of the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite). In that regard, one could say that "continuity" with that Missal tradition was a driving factor, but so too was beauty more generally (through art, artistic flourishes and layout -- again, all taking inspiration from that tradition). To this I would also add, however, that such a proposal also has the benefit of being a more economic use of the printed page, thereby requiring less printed pages (which thereby also makes it more “green”), and, on a practical level, would require less page turning on the part of the priest during the course of the celebration of the Mass.
At the end of this article is a PDF which will explain the details more in depth and which will also let you look at the design more closely, but I thought I would first give readers a quick overview here of what I came up with, and in a way which tries to approximate the way it would look in published format. (The sample crucifixion plate shown below is by Leonard Porter, courtesy of Segnatura Fine Arts, all rights reserved.)
We begin with a colour sample coming within the context of Eucharistic Prayer I, or the Roman Canon (click to enlarge):
Here is the same, however in a black and white format (click to enlarge):
The final example comes within the context of the Proper of Time (Proprium de Tempore), which also gives an opportunity to look at what the layout of most of the pages might look like; namely, those which are not accompanied by artwork (click to enlarge):
The key components which I would highlight in this design are the use of two columns with justified text, the use of drop capitals and in different sizes in proportion to where they are being used, the use and placement of the artwork, and page borders. I say more on each of these elements in the PDF below. There too I also give some thoughts on some other additions to this, include the matter of the inclusion of the Latin Ordo Missae.
With that, here is the more detailed explanation and consideration of the proposal.
NLM Roman Missal Design Proposal