Friday, 25 Sep 2015


Print Layout Readings

EL227 is “News Writing,” not a design course. Still, form and function are intimately related.

The actual assignment is at the very bottom of the page.


Terms to know

  • headline, subhead, graphic, photo (see image above)
  • typeface — the name for a particular lettering design, such as Arial, Times New Roman, or Comic Sans. Because word processors let you choose the typeface by selecting a menu item labeled “font,” many people understandably call “Arial” a “font” when in fact it is a typeface.
  • font — a general styling (such as bold or italics), applied to a particular typeface of lettering (such as Arial or Times New Roman).
  • typeface vs. font: if you want to make a living with words, it’s a good idea to start using the word “typeface” where the average person would use the word “font.”  Don’t pedantically correct your boss if he or she uses the word incorrectly, but you yourself should always use the word correctly. People who care about such things will notice.
  • heading vs. caption vs. cutline:  to the average person, the text underneath an image is the “caption,” but the word “caption” means a heading above the image — the word “cutline” (which is usually more than one line) more properly means the text under an image. Again, don’t obnoxiously correct your superiors, since for the general public the word “caption” is perfectly clear, but in your own writing and speech, say “heading” when you mean the text above an image, and “cutline” when you mean “the text that describes a picture.”

Great Layout Examples

  • Note the use of white space
  • The main story is always obvious — it’s not just first, it’s also bigger, bolder, etc.
  • The main photo is typically 2x bigger than other photos, leaving no question which is the central image. (The large size of the photo commands attention. You make the image the center of the page by making it bigger. If you have a great photo, show it off.)
  • One common layout pattern is the Z shape.
    Put photos in the corners or elsewhere along the path of the Z. (You might also use pull quotes.)
  • pull quotes — in a story with no photos, you can stretch a story to fit the available space by inserting a text box that includes an eye-catching quotation from the store. Put that quote in the path of the z-shape that the eye naturally takes over the page.
  • headline (a journalist’s word for what the rest of the world will call the title)
  • subhead (can be above or below the headline; a smaller typeface that explains the headline)
  • byline (the line that gives credit to the writer; “By Jim Smith, staff writer”)
  • dateline (after the byline, before the first sentence of the story, AP style places a geographic identifier — typically the name of the city from which the story was filed. The “dateline” section of the AP Style handbook has lots of detail on this. The Setonian generally does not  use a dateline, and I do not require a dateline in stories you submit to me, but I do want you to know what the term means. I know this is a bit confusing, because you would figure “dateline” would be a line with the date on it, but the AP style book says a dateline is “a city name, entirely in capital letters, followed in most cases by the name of the state, county, or territory where the city is located.” Well-known cities such as NEW YORK, CHICAGO or PITTSBURGH don’t require the state. Here is how you might file a story from Greensburg.

    Exploding iPad injures two at Pennsylvania College
    By Jim Smith, Steel City Times
    GREENSBURG, Pa. — Two were injured Friday when a Seton Hill University student’s iPad exploded.

    The dateline has historical importance. It used to include the date, at a time in history when travel from one state to another may have taken several days. If you wrote about something that happened in Paris, the dateline reminded the reader that this event may have happened a week or more ago.

    The Associated Press (an alliance of newspaper that pooled resources to save money) used the dateline to advertise that this story you are reading about something that happened in another part of the world happened just a day or two ago, or maybe even this morning. (The AP service sent out stories via morse code over telegraph wires.)

    In my class exercises, I don’t enforce any specific dateline, but for the final term project I will give everyone a format to follow. (Don’t worry about it now.)

  • banner headline (a headline that goes all the way across the top of the page)
  • above/below the fold (placement in the upper/lower half of a newspaper page; when the paper is folded and sitting in the display rack, only the top half of the paper will be visible; your most important stories will appear above the fold; avoid splitting headlines across the fold line)

Avoid “butting heads” (also called “tombstoning”). In the following example, headlines from two separate stories create what looks like a single story. This is awkward.


Layout Disasters

From our own Tribune-Review. The fancy graphic makes the word “u” look like an “H”, which changes the meaning of the text.


Below, the photo of the child waving goodbye has nothing to do with the story on the right.


Above are simple, obvious, glaring mistakes in newspaper design.

Some models…

(UK Guardian) What word is the politician looking at? The layout, cropping, gaping black space, and the text all combine to help make the journalist’s point.

The front page emphasizes the biggest story (“ON EDGE”). A story from a section front page (“The Smell of Success”) uses an appealing design — and a real, visual inverted pyramid — to draw the eye down to a graphic that illustrates the theme of the story (perfume).
Every page on this site is a visual feast. (See more pages.)
The above design goes for solid and blocky; identifies it as a conservative publication that uses traditional layout to emphasize the content, rather than eye candy. But as you can see, the pages aren’t gray slabs of text — there is vibrancy and energy on these pages.

Blogging Assignment

Review two contrasting front pages (from the Newseum front page gallery). Each page will typically have a lead story and lead art. The lead story will be what’s most newsworthy. The lead art will be whatever is the most eye-catching photo (or graphic) the editors have access to for that issue.

Answer these questions on your blog. For each of the two front pages you chose,

  • What is the lead story? (How do you know it’s the lead story? What are the other stories?)
  • What is the lead art? (How do you know it’s the lead art? What is the other art?)
  • Are the lead art and lead story related?
  • What variety of headlines do you find? (In terms of design? Purpose? Tone?)
  • Demonstrate how you can apply something you learned from this page to the front page you chose.