Design and Layout
The following techniques are used by industry professionals to gain the attention of readers and build their audience. Not all of them may apply to you, but having the knowledge of these techniques may benefit you.
Write Interesting Titles
Your titles need to be interesting and even intriguing. Make sure they stand out and capture the attention of your readers. There are several types of titles you can write:
- Titles that meet a need. These are often "How-To" type articles, but they meet a need someone has. This could be something like, "How to Avoid Divorce" or "Winning the Heart of Your Rebellious Teenager."
- Titles that spark curiosity. These titles grab the attention with a mental, "That's interesting..." These titles may sound like this, "Mysterious Blob Discovered in Man's Grill" or "Dog Learns to Fly the Hard Way."
- Titles that provoke. This does not mean you are trying to offend the reader, but the title is meant to provoke an emotional response to the reader's sensibilities so that they'll read it. For example, "Man Wants to Marry His Daughter," or "Reading May Be Dangerous to Your Health." There is a lot of creativity in this, so be creative.
Use White Space
White space is essential part of design for two reasons. First, to separate elements. Don't crowd things so close together that the eye has a hard time distinguishing individual elements. Use horizontal and vertical white space between columns, pictures, and titles. Second, use white space to draw attention to specific elements. For example, if there is a lot of space around your main article title, the eye will be naturally drawn to it. But if it is packed in with everything else, the eye will not naturally focus on it and will see the entire page as a single element, thus diluting the entire visual effect.
Design for Readability
You want people to read your newspaper, so designing in such a way that a reader instinctively reads things is important. Done right, the reader will not even notice what you did because the design will feel natural to the reader. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Use a comfortable and readable font. Script fonts are hard to read and strain the eye. Use serif or sanserif fonts that are pleasant to the eye. We recommend a font size between 11 and 12 pt in size for body text.
- Keep fonts and font sizes consistent. Don't use too many different sizes of fonts or different fonts. The more fonts you use the messier your newspaper will seem.
- Make navigation easy. Make sure that your readers can quickly and easily locate articles and important information in your newspaper. Again, when done right, no one will notice because it will be natural. Done wrong, it becomes an irritant.
- Use white space. This has already been covered, but bears repeating. Use white space to clearly separate elements so that it appears natural to the eye.
Pictures Tell a Story
Your pictures need to be appropriate to the article you write. Your pictures need to tell part of the story and, if possible, evoke emotion in the reader. Don't stretch a picture out of normal proportion to get it to fit in a particular space. Don't make people fat or skinny just to get it to fit. It is distracting and unnatural. Instead, crop pictures to fit and make the image part of the story itself.
Keep It Simple
Don't try to get fancy. Let your words and images evoke the interest and emotion you want. Don't try to use lots of shadowing, 3-D images, oddly placed clip-art (just to fill space), and so on. Don't go for flash. Go for simple. Let your titles and images do the work.
Design around Articles
When designing your newspaper, put your articles in place first. Instead of trying to make your articles fit to your images, titles, and other elements, make the other elements fit your articles. The articles is the essence of a newspaper, so start with the articles and add the content around it appropriately. That may not mean that your articles may not need trimming, it just means that the articles are the most important part of your newspaper.
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