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Learning page design

Discussion in 'Design Discussion' started by MNgremlin, Jun 15, 2015.

  1. MNgremlin

    MNgremlin Active Member

    In an attempt to become a more well-rounded journalist, I am hoping to learn page design. I didn't get to my newspaper job through a journalism program, so I never really learned design. I took a few journalism classes in college, but those basically stuck to writing.

    I've done work throwing info on agate pages, so I am comfortable when it comes to working with the program itself. My issue comes more with the design standpoint and what is and isn't acceptable. I've picked up a few things here and there watching my editors do pages, but it's things like spacing, font sizes, picture sizes, etc., that I'm still hoping to learn, even at a basic level.
  2. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    I took one design class in college, but it wasn't all that helpful. Good designing takes some talent and creativity, but designing an inside page is pretty simple. It shouldn't be tough to find someone to show you the ropes. And a lot depends on what design system you'll be using.

    Just use your larger headline at the top of the page and make them smaller the lower on the page they are. I general, don't go much bigger than 48 points or maybe 54 and don't go much lower than 30 points. Large news/feature head sizes will depend on your paper's font/style.

    And try to mix up the sizes of the photos as well. Most inside pages, the photos will be 1, 2 or columns. And if you are using a 1-column you'll want to find a tight photo so you can see what the photo actually is. And look for the photos with the most emotion/action/impact.

    Spacing is very important and one of the things I struggled with a bit when I was starting out now that I look back on it. ALWAYS leave at least a pica between elements, and most places use 2 picas with a rule centered in the middle. White space is your friend, and it can actually be used creatively to let a display breathe a little.

    Any specific questions? And always remember, don't dick around ... don't rush, but get the stuff done quickly. The copy editors are relying on you to give them time to write headlines, cutlines, etc.
  3. MNgremlin

    MNgremlin Active Member

    1. What's a pica? These are the types of details that I never really learned. Someone tried to explain it to me once, but I walked away still confused.
    2. Copy editors? What are those? Ha! Page designers are copy editors are reporters at my shop.
  4. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I learned design and editing at the same time. I do both pretty regularly still. A pica and a point are simply units of measurement. There are 6 picas in an inch, and a pica contains 12 points. It really isn't a big deal ... I am not great at math, and your design program should automatically use points and picas.

    This will only confuse you further, but read on if you wish. Like I said, don't worry TOO much about it. Most of this was much more important in the paste-up days, but it is still helpful.
    So. theoretically, a 12-inch story would need to be 72 picas deep (or 4 columns of 18, or what have you). And a 72-point headline would be 6 picas deep. I think ... haven't used a lot of this stuff in a while. And it depends on your systems, whether these measurements are truly accurate. And it depends on the width of your columns, etc. I just slap stuff on the page and make it fit with photos, etc.
  5. MNgremlin

    MNgremlin Active Member

    Your previous post about one or two picas between stories actually made the most sense, because I have a mental picture of how we do it. I think I have a harder time with the spacing above and below. We have vertical guides in our program for the columns, but I don't think they're there the other way.
  6. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    Once you start doing it, you'll get the hang of using the coordinates in your tool bar. They'll tell you the X (horiz)/Y(vertical) coordinate, and you just put your rule or the next story a pica or two over or above/below. EX: If your story is 27p4 wide, then start your next story at 29p4, then put a rule centered at 28p4. It sounds complicated, but seeing it will make it a lot easier. And most programs have guides you can put in and "snap-to" guides that will put your rule or whatever in the right place. It really isn't all that complicated until you start dealing with front-page or feature design.
  7. HandsomeHarley

    HandsomeHarley Well-Known Member

    I learned 98 percent of page design from one of two entities: journalism workshops and from reading other newspapers.

    That said:
    * Headlines: The largest hed should go with the main package, and normally is at the top. Other heds should grow smaller as you go down the page.
    Smallest hed on a front page should be 32 point.
    One-deck heds should be a maximum of four lines.
    On action heds, only proper words are capitalized, but you can create fancy "read me" heds that are all caps or all longer words are capped.
    Heds shouldn't butt against one another. Simplify this by using vertical lines.
    Do not separate a hed from the story with a photo, unless you have a subhed under the photo.
    No "war" fonts unless it's a HUGE story (a "war" font is a huge hed, at least 72 pt, that goes across the top of the page).

    * Stories
    Use modular design. Every story should be in a square of rectangle (otherwise, NO doglegs).
    Try to have at least one element of art with each package. Art can be a logo, mugshot, subdeck, graph, photo, pull quote, etc.
    Mugshots should be no bigger than 1/2 a normal column space.
    Logos should be no bigger than 6-7 lines of text.
    Never jump a story on a broken word. If possible, jump stories on ends of paragraphs.

    * Photos
    One main photo on the page, and should go with the main package. Every other photo should be smaller.
    Try to arrange your art into a Z as you look the page from top to bottom.
    REAL people doing REAL things (smaller communities use tons of posed pics, which I've come to grudgingly accept, but RARELY as a main photo).
    People's heads should be no smaller than a dime.
    The cutline should describe the action in the photo and should be the ONLY thing in the paper in present tense.
    If you can't ID all of the main people in the photo, select a different photo. That's a lazy photographer.

    That's all that comes off the top of my head.
    jr/shotglass likes this.
  8. MNgremlin

    MNgremlin Active Member

    That last post had lots of good info. Thanks!

    I should add that our shop has front page templates and a "library" of pre-formatted headlines, text and picture boxes and stuff so font sizes and the like are built in. Maybe that's why I feel a little more confident without much actual experience.
  9. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    My feelings are hurt! :) Yeah, with all the stuff you can do now on a computer pagination system, it shouldn't be too intimidating. Once you start doing it, you'll get the hang of it, but it might take a little time and trial and error.
  10. MNgremlin

    MNgremlin Active Member

    Your last post was helpful too. That's something I can see myself using.
  11. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    Depending on how good your templates are, that can save a TON of time. I can build our baseball page in as little as 10 minutes, depending on what elements are on there on a given day.
  12. Riptide

    Riptide Well-Known Member

    Stuff like this isn't written in stone. It varies by paper and by circumstance, too.
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