Layout and design

The editorial function of any publication – whether website, newsletter, newspaper or magazine – has three main elements:

  • Writing
    Which can be divided into “reporting”- or writing of news items – feature and comment writing.  Understanding the different techniques can be helpful and important.
  • Sub-editing
    The checking, editing and improvement of what has been written
  • Layout and design
    The typefaces to be used; and how the material to be used on a page (words and pictures) is to be displayed.

This page focusses on the third of these: layout and design

Critical to the success of your publication is an understanding of good design

As one of journalism’s ‘greats’, Allen Hutt, put it in his book ‘Newspaper Design’:

“Graphic design… not a thing in itself.

“The good (designer) does not assemble type in a page merely to make an agreeable pattern, or as an exercise in display for its own sake. Typography and make-up… are only a vehicle for journalism; and it is journalism that is the most important.”

Allen Hutt
'Newspaper Design'

Design is concerned with form and content; content always comes first

The designer/sub-editor examines and assesses the copy and pictures at his disposal and decides the best way to present them. It’s not just a matter of opinion. Views may vary because design may be personal. Experts can differ, but the wrong answer can never be right.

An easily read page is a well planned page with the reader finding their way from one story to another with the minimum of ocular hazards. Copy must have an even flow so that the reader always knows where to go next.”

Page design is one of the most fascinating and satisfying facets of a sub-editor’s job. In short an easily read page is a well planned page and our advice again is to look at the examples from professional publications.

Some quick hints on good layout:

  • Use a minimum of typefaces:  choose the type you are going to use carefully then stick to it except for emphasis
  • The key to the design of a page can lie in the placing and shaping of a picture
  • Use boxes, ‘pull outs’, sub headings or other illustrations to highlight key aspects of the text
  • By all means be original – but remember always that the purpose of design is to make the article attractive and easy to read

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