Front page design: Some trends continue

Front page design: Some trends continue

Utt, Sandra H

A 20-year update of front page design found more newspapers running all photos in 4-color and using offset printing, boldface sans serif type for dominant headlines, digital imaging and computerized pagination systems.

What began as a design revolution for America’s newspapers about three decades ago has now settled into more of an evolution-one of subtle page re-designs, myriad offerings of new technologies and adaptation to the design challenges of the online newspaper.

More than 20 years after USA Today made its brash entrance onto the newspaper scene and into daily journalism’s design consciousness, newspapers in the United States-at least as defined by their front pages-have never looked better, according to some, or more dull and homogeneous-in the eyes of others.

Of course, change in newspaper design did not begin in the 1970s, but instead has been going on-at several periods, quite subtly-for decades. A study of newspaper design during the inter-war years of 1920 to 1940 concluded that design change was neither sudden nor linear and came about only through experimentation at the newspapers.1

One observer of design trends writes that the era of “design by imitation” is ending and that newspapers are starting to recapture a sense of their individuality in appearance,2 sometimes by going back to what worked well years ago, without abandoning some of the modern features available. Among the “returns” to old style cited: the return of non-modular L-shaped articles and butting headlines.3

Another observer writes that there’s a sense among designers that the appearance of American newspapers has reached a plateau, gone flat, and lost its element of surprise.4 Indeed, a trip to multiple U.S. cities would find a high degree of sameness in the look of daily newspapers, in cities large and small, east and west.

It seems an eternity since America’s front pages featured small black and white photos, vertical page design and seven column rules separating the eight columns of seemingly endless grey legs of type. Since the 1970s, front pages have been transformed from grey to colorful, from primarily text-based to a regular reliance on various types of art, and from one created with a dummy sheet, pencil and ruler to computer-generated pages that are easier, faster and more versatile than anyone could have imagined a generation ago. The mechanics of page layout have been replaced by the art of news design.

The era has also witnessed the arrival of the design professional, who, at first, and at some newspapers, held the Rodney Dangerfield mantra of “getting no respect;” increasingly today the designers are playing a more vital role in determining newspaper content, and the integration of words and art.

While the 1980s seemed preoccupied with the splash of color, the spread of modular design and the arrival of large, dominant photos, in the 1990s, the focus changed to integrating words and art. Another trend became simplicity of design and ease of navigation,5 particularly with the arrival of the online newspaper in the mid-to-late 1990s.

Even the greyest among the newspapers “cried uncle” in the past few years. The New York Times published a color photograph on its front page for the first time in 1997, and The Wall Street Journal raised a few spot-color eyebrows in 2002, sporting color graphics, pastel tint boxes and trendy section-front promos with little silhouetted photos. Earlier, the once dizzyingly vertical Los Angeles Times sported a new look aimed at making the paper more inviting while responding to the use of smaller newsprint width.6 (In recent years, several newspapers7 adopted a 50-inch web width, which is becoming the new industry standard.8 This has made the newspapers slightly smaller, cutting slightly the cost of newsprint-and it has had an effect on page design for the newer, smaller pages).

Despite the advances of the past years, design at newspapers is still sometimes seen as distant cousin to content, often defined as “text.” A 2002 study of reader satisfaction conducted by the Readership Institute at Northwestern University found that design was not on the list of content-related areas focused upon.9 In a list of what makes a newspaper “easy to read” another study reported that ease of navigation does not center on design or placement of articles. In fact, when the researchers tested design components such as use of photographs, graphics, color, headers at the tops of stories, indexing, placement, jumps and anchoring-they found none of them related statistically to ease of reading.10

The future of newspaper design is difficult to predict, but a panel of experts generally agreed on some basics: the Internet will play a major role in influencing news design; the use of graphics to tell a story will continue to grow; the emphasis will be on delivery of information rather than on looking “cool.”11 One area key to the future of newspaper design relates to the online newspaper, which offers both opportunities and challenges: There are no length restrictions on articles; the news hole can be said to be infinite. Navigation by readers is aided by maps, hyperlinks and bookmarks, rather than the traditional eye movement, jump lines, etc. But, most observers agree that the bedrock principles of good design from the printed newspaper-balance, contrast, proportion, simplicity-carry over onto the on-screen version.

Other print conventions such as a table of contents and an index can be used in hypertext, but are not always appropriate. In a newspaper-style environment, headlines (with larger type for more important stories, just like the print convention) and sections can be used as they are now. Some readers will always turn first to the metro pages and ignore sports. Some will read nothing but the editorial page or the comics.12 In fact, according to some observers, the online newspaper has made the concept of a front page superfluous.13

Literature Review

Over the past two decades, a growing body of research has been published and presented regarding newspaper design. Many studies have tracked trends-in appearance itself, in the use of new technologies to aid design, or in the changes in staffing at newspapers to reflect a level of attention paid to design.14

Moses, in The American Editor, summarized some of the key research findings that guided editors as they consider design changes. For example, she reported that readers “enter” the page through large pictures or headlines, that adding a visual element makes the story much more likely to be read, and that bigger pictures garner a larger audience for their cut lines.15 Numerous others have studied the role of the photograph as an eye-catcher for readers.”16

In the 1980s and 1990s, Pasternack and Utt17 conducted a series of studies of newspaper design trends, focusing on the showcase front pages of daily newspapers. They found that some changes (addition of color, movement to a modular design, fewer columns per page) were close to industry-wide while others (increase in size of body text, wider use of informational graphics, or adoption of a page digest) occurred on a paper-by-paper basis. By the mid 1990s, most dailies were using color every day, front pages were almost universally featuring a dominant photograph and the 6-column page had become the rule, with more and more pages featuring so-called “bastard” column widths. Another major change was the lower predictability of the location for dominant photos and lead articles.

At the same time, the number of newspapers using informational graphics was increasing, as was the regularity of such use. By the mid 1980s, graphic devices were taking up about one-fourth of front-page space18 and the number of informational graphics per daily newspaper each day19 had reached an average of four,20 making the use of graphics a potential factor in a competitive newspaper market.21

With the increase in graphics use, some researchers turned their attention to the designers themselves. Lowrey22 found that about half of the news designers had journalism degrees and an equal number had art degrees. He also found that design staffs consisting of those with a journalism background and orientation were more likely to have newsroom influence than those with another type of background, such as art.

Additionally, more than two-thirds of the newspapers Lowrey studied were fully paginated. Generally, those designers using Quark Xpress felt their systems aided creativity, while users of other systems (CCI, SII and Harris) reported the system as posing obstacles.

A growing body of literature has also been developing relating to the design of the online newspaper. Studies thus far have focused primarily on navigation and efficiency, but there are some descriptive content analyses being done as well as studies applying reader-use models to the online experience. Li’s study in the late 1990s of three newspapers’ online editions found an average of 3.4 news items each day on the home page and an average of 10 on the so-called “front page” (the first link from the home page, or in effect, a “section front”).23 The mix of text and graphics, according to the study, varied according to what type of page the reader was visiting: on home and front pages, Li found large-sized graphics, while text dominated inner pages (those containing articles, e.g.).

Li also found that only 13 percent of the stories in the online edition of The New York Times had accompanying photographs. In a study of 56 online dailies in the United States, Huang found that 89 percent of the newspapers carried at least one photograph on their site and that 42 percent of stories inside the Web sites carried at least one photo.24 He also studied photo size, download time and photo location.

Major issues for readers of online newspapers are navigability and efficiency of information retrieval. In a 2002 study, Li wrote that various types of web page designs can be effective for retrieval efficiency; he also said that visual appeal and retrieval efficiency do not always go hand in hand,25 a view echoed by some others.26

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the design of newspapers, including their print front page and online edition. A second purpose is to explore the attitudes of editors toward the importance of appearance and how important they think design is to newspaper readers. This is a replication of studies conducted in 1982, 1988 and 1993.

Method

From a population of 857 daily newspapers with circulations of 10,000 and above, 300 were selected from the 2002 Editor & Publisher International Yearbook, using a systematic probability sampling method. Booklet-sized questionnaires, accompanied by a cover letter and a business reply envelope, were mailed to daily newspapers in November 2002. A follow-up letter was mailed in February 2003. The questionnaire was addressed to the newspaper’s staff member who was primarily responsible and / or most knowledgeable of the layout and design of both the print and the online editions.

Research Questions

RQ1:

What are the graphic and design characteristics of daily newspapers’ print front pages and their online edition with respect to the overall design; type selection; color; photography; informational graphics; use of technology, graphics software; design staff and software and printing methods?

RQ2:

What are editors’ attitudes and perceptions toward graphics and design with respect to the attractiveness of American dailies and their online editions?

Characteristics of Sample

Responses were received from 130 newspapers, representing a 43.3 percent response rate. The responding dailies were categorized as follows: 10,000 to 24,999 (38.5 percent) 25,000 to 49,999 circulation (32.3 percent); 50,000 to 99,999 (15.4 percent); 100,000 to 249,999 (8.5 percent); and 250,000 and above (5.4 percent). According to the 2002 Editor & Publisher International Yearbook, daily newspapers nationally are categorized as follows by circulation: 10,000 to 24,999 (50.5 percent) 25,000 to 49,999 circulation (23.4 percent); 50,000 to 99,999 (13.7 percent); 100,000 to 249,999 (7.8 percent) and 250,000 and above (4.4 percent).

Findings

Research Question #1:

Print Front Page Design Styles:

Almost all dailies (95.3 percent) use a modular format. More than half (56.1 percent) of those papers use both horizontal and vertical modular designs; 22.8 percent use a horizontal/modular design and 15.4 use vertical/modular designs. Photographs and visuals tend to determine the look of the front page at 46.9 percent of the papers, while news determines the look at 46.2 percent. For example, at a paper that has a strong photo editor,27 he/she will determine all design elements, including the story count, but the first decision is the size and placement of the dominant photo; therefore, visuals tend to determine the look of the front page. And at a paper that has a strong news editor, he/she will select the lead story, its length and placement; therefore, news tends to determine the look of the front page.

Two-thirds (65.6 percent) vary the column width of their paper’s front page at least four times a week, while 46 percent vary the column width every day. The front page is designed using a basic 6-column format at 66.9 percent of the dailies, while 9.2 percent have no standard column width or format. Other designs include: 12.2 of the papers regularly use fewer than six columns, and 10.6 percent use more than six columns. In the past five years the actual size of the page has been decreased at 79.2 percent of the papers. Although the number of columns has not changed in the past five years at 65.4 percent of the papers, more than one third (38 percent) of the papers now use a 10.1 to 11-pica width line as standard.

More than half (62.3 percent) of the newspapers have been re-designed within the last five years, and 68.5 percent now have their own design stylebook. While 85.7 percent of the large-circulation newspapers28 have their own design stylebook, only 52 percent of small-circulation newspapers have their own design stylebook29 (x^sup 2^=16.394, df=4, p=.003).

Almost half (47.4 percent) of the editors indicate that no regular pattern exists for placement of the lead story on the front page. Other prevalent locations were: across the width of the top of the page (27.1 percent) and in the upper right corner (22.5 percent).

Almost one-half (46 percent) of the newspapers surveyed have not changed the number of stories they normally place on page one in the past five years. While few dailies (0.8 percent) begin 10 or more stories on page one, more than three fourths (75.9 percent) of the papers begin five or six stories on their front page. However, almost all of these stories conclude on the inside, as 97.7 percent of the papers jump all of their page one stories.

Flags at daily newspapers in 2003 generally span the entire width of the page (86.9 percent of the papers) and move down into the page on a regular basis (60 percent of the papers). Among those that move the flag down into the page, 85.6 percent regularly run teasers above the flag; 51.8 percent regularly run photos above the flag and 25.6 percent regularly run headlines above the flag.30 Other items that run at least occasionally above the flag include: an index or digest at 6.3 percent of the papers, stories at 3.6 percent of the papers and infographics at 3.7 percent of the papers. (See Table 1)

About two-thirds (65.1 percent) of the flags are in a traditional style with a text typeface. Additionally, 62.3 percent of the papers do not incorporate an emblem in their flag. Flags at 60 percent of the newspapers have been redesigned in the last five years to incorporate a more classic look. In some cases, emblems that included eagles, the outline of the state or the American flag, for example, were deleted or simplified.

Almost all (95.3 percent) of the dailies surveyed print an index on page one, and 58.2 percent run it at the bottom of the far-left column. Only 35.7 percent publish a digest on page one. Of that group, 63.3 percent run it in the left column, while 10.2 percent run it across the bottom.

Type Selection:

More than half (57.5 percent) of the newspapers use either a 9-point or a 9.5-point type for body text, while 16.5 percent use 10 point. In the past five years, 27 percent of the papers have increased their text size, while 58.7 percent have not changed the body size of their text. Almost all (97.7 percent) use a serif face for body type.

Bylines are set either in 8 point (14.1 percent), 9 point (35.2 percent) or 10 point (36.7 percent). At some newspapers, bylines are also set in all caps (58.9 percent), in boldface (89.2 percent), and in sans serif (69.5 percent); 71 percent of those surveyed have not changed the size of bylines in the past five years.

Cutlines are most commonly set in 10 point (46.3 percent) or in a non-standard size such as 9.5 or 10.5 (17.9 percent), in a sans serif face (84.4 percent) and almost equally split between boldface (50.4 percent) and medium face (49.6 percent). More than half of the newspapers (68.3 percent) have not increased their cutline size in the past five years.

Headlines are split between serif (30.5 percent) and sans serif faces (69.5 percent). In the past five years, 50 percent of the newspapers reported an increase in the size of their average headline. The largest headline normally used ranges from 45 to 160 points; however, the two most common sizes that are used with the lead story are 60 points (20 percent of the papers) and 72 points (28.5 percent of the papers).

Color:

Of the newspapers surveyed, almost half (48.8 percent) have increased the number of color photos on their front pages in the past five years. Almost all (93.8 percent) run all of their page-one photos in 4-color. Other items that run in color each day include: teasers (57.9 percent); flag (43.7 percent); and infographies (22 percent). (See Table 2)

More than one third (34.1 percent) reported a decrease in the use of spot color in the past five years. Papers that never run the following items in spot color include: border/tooling lines (49.6 percent), headlines (46 percent) and screen behind type (21.7 percent).

Photography:

Almost half of the newspapers (48 percent) run two photos every day on page one, while almost the same number (42.5 percent) run three or more every day on page one. Almost all (98.4 percent) use a dominant photograph. About two thirds (67.5 percent) place their dominant photo in the middle of the page, while 24.6 percent do not have a set pattern for that photo’s placement. Additionally, the size of the dominant photo has increased in the past five years at almost half (49.6 percent) of the papers.

Infographics:

Less than half (47.2 percent) of the newspapers average one informational graphic per day on their front page; 44.6 percent of the papers have increased their number of infographics on page one in the past five years. However, only 2.4 percent of the papers use a dominant infographic on a regular basis. Large newspapers are more likely (83.3 percent of the papers) to run all of their infographics in color than are small papers (60.9 percent of the papers) likely to run them in color (x^sup 2^=9.48, df=4, p=.05).

Technology:

Today’s newspapers are using computerized pagination systems (86.2 percent), digital imaging (82.2 percent); color scanning (76.2 percent), satellite transmission systems (70.8 percent), a Macintosh (60 percent) or a combination of Macintosh and PC platforms (20 percent) and electronic picture editing-Leafdesk (55.4 percent).

Graphics Software:

Almost all of today’s papers are using Associated Press Graphics (95.4 percent), while 86.9 percent are also creating their own graphics. Large circulation papers (85.7 percent) are more likely to receive Knight-Ridder Tribune News Graphics than are small circulation papers (12 percent) (x^sup 2^=31.391, df=4, (p=.000). Graphics wire services that have yet to reach the majority of the papers include Scripps-Howard News Service (23.8 percent), the New York Times Graphics (12.3 percent), Gannett News Service (10.8 percent) and Freedom News Service (2.3 percent).

Design Staff and Design Software:

The print front pages at 70.5 percent of the papers are designed by a person with a journalism background, as opposed to computer science (27.1 percent) or art (0.8 percent). Almost three fourths (73.8 percent) of the papers are using “off the shelf” Quark. However, small papers are more likely to use Quark than large papers are likely to use Quark than are larger newspapers (x^sup 2^=22.246, df=4; p=.00). Other software programs are used less frequently, including: Harris (8.5 percent), DTI (8.5 percent), QPS (5.4 percent) and Atex (3.1 percent).

Printing Methods:

Offset is the printing method at 90.6 percent of the papers; 7.1 percent are printed by letterpress; and 2.4 percent are printed by other methods, including flexography or gravure or a combination of methods.

Online Edition:

Even though more than half (58.5 percent) of the papers view the online edition as a supplement to the print version; almost three fourths (74 percent) have separate departments designing the print and online editions. At 36.4 percent of the papers, the online edition is designed by a person with computer science expertise, while 22 percent of the papers use a person with a combination of an art, journalism and computer science background. Persons with only a journalism background design less than one third (26.3 percent) of the online editions.

Print-version design techniques are used by online editions as follows: 69.7 use a dominant photo; 66.9 percent use a different typeface from the text typeface for both cutlines and bylines; 58.9 percent use the same flag as is used in the print edition; 40.3 percent change the size of the typeface for all headlines; 32 percent set the type in columns; 31.3 percent justify the body text; and 16.5 percentuse a dominant infographic. Taking a suggestion from the traditional print placement of the index and digest, 82.1 percent of the online editions use a left column navigator bar with links to major content areas within the site. (See Table 3)

Research Question #2:

Editors’ Attitudes and Perceptions:

Most (79.8 percent) of the editors said they are satisfied with their newspaper’s concern for the quality of the front-page design and with the actual appearance of their front page (70.9 percent). Almost three fourths (73.1 percent) think that the typical reader is concerned about graphic design and layout when deciding which newspaper to read. And, almost all (96.2 percent) of the editors agree that when newspapers are in a competitive setting, their appearance can be a critical factor when attracting readers and boosting circulation. Additionally, 58.5 percent agree that the online newspaper edition should be as well designed and attractive as its print edition.

More than half (51.9 percent) rated highly the attractiveness of their own print front pages, while 42.1 percent highly rated the attractiveness of print front pages in general. Conversely, less than one fourth (23 percent) highly rated the attractiveness of their online home page, while 24.4 percent highly rated the attractiveness of most online home pages. Editors, for the most part, did not find the online editions in general easy to navigate-25.2 percent rated their own home pages as very easy to navigate, while only 18.2 percent of the editors rated the ease of navigation of most online home pages as “very easy”.

Less than one quarter of the papers (24.6 percent) have studied how their readers react to the newspaper’s design in the past 5 years. Of those who have studied their readers, 80.8 percent indicate that readers were either satisfied or very satisfied with their design.

Discussion

The modernization of newspaper design, begun in the 1970s, appears to be at a crossroads. Some trends continue, others have flattened and in some cases, we are witnessing a return to traditional design techniques and practices (See Table 4). Do not expect, anytime soon, black and white pages with long, vertical legs of 8-point body type. Instead, it appears designers are slowing down the pace of change, evaluating what has worked and what has not and occasionally going back to their design roots.

The trend toward modular design for newspaper front pages, a practice that became dominant in the industry two decades ago, continues today. Whereas 66 percent of the dailies surveyed 20 years ago used a modular design on their front page, today such use is almost universal (95 percent).

To realize the growing importance of page design, one need look no further than at re-designs. About three in five dailies surveyed said they had redesigned their front page in the previous five years. In those re-designs, not all the changes have been toward modernization. The percentage of dailies using a 6-column page was at its lowest point in two decades. This might be evidence of a desire to standardize their page, or it might be attributable to the smaller page size, making such variations less practical. Additionally, the number of newspapers that regularly used “bastard widths” on their front page has dropped notably in the past decade.

The increase in modular designs is reflected by the result that half of the dailies surveyed said there is no regular pattern for the location of their lead story, showing a steady increase since a result of 25 percent two decades back. As is often the case with modular design, the dominant photo seems to have found a regular location in the center of the page, with about one in four dailies saying they vary the lead photo’s placement, compared to more than 50 percent in the 1980s. This lack of variation in photo placement may also be indicative of the growth of the strength of the photo editor and the increase in the use of a design style-68.5 percent now have a design stylebook.

The page one flag continues to find itself moved around a bit on page one, with three in five newspapers saying they regularly move it from the traditional top location, and nearly nine in ten dailies saying they regularly run teasers above the flag, up by 10 percentage points in the past decade. Data suggest a return to more traditional-looking nameplates, with 65 percent of designers saying they now use an oldstyle traditional flag, up from the low 50s in previous research.

As might be expected, the percentage of newspapers using computerized page makeup has soared, from 17 percent in the late 1980s to 86 percent today. Percentages using particular software packages have been on a roller coaster, reflecting the availability of new programs on the market. Associated Press graphics are pervasive and the PC has made inroads in the design industry, but Macintosh still dominates. The drop in usage of Leafdesk can be explained by the increase in digital cameras, reducing the need to scan pictures.

A plurality of newspapers continue to use 9.5-point text type, but perhaps the most surprising finding related to type is the decreased percentage using serif typefaces for headlines, currently at 30.5 percent, down from 55.2 percent a decade ago.

Color remains king, but the colorization revolution shows signs of abating. In 1982, 30.3 and 13 percent in 1987 of the large newspapers (250,000 + circulation) indicated-with a touch of pride, perhaps stubbornness or their printing method-that they never used color photos. While color has become truly dominant nationally, the percentage of newspapers increasing their use of color pictures fell from 78 percent a decade ago to 49 percent in this study and the use of spot (shading) color has shown its first decline. This increase might also be stagnant because so many papers have been running a high percentage of their photos in 4-color for more than five years. Almost all (93.9 percent) of the papers run all of their photos in color.

Front-page design is no longer the sole domain of journalism graduates. This may be because some many of them are “cookie cutter” in nature with a template. You really don’t need a journalism background with a strong news component to put together a front page if your paper uses a template. An art or a computer science graduate can do it.

Of the four front-page design studies, this was the first to examine the online page. With online newspaper pages continuing to evolve, future research must, by necessity, anticipate significant changes in online design, and should track these developments. What’s interesting about the online newspapers is use of print techniques in their design. Even though people are reading the paper online, the designers-who are usually in a separate department-can’t get away from creating a “front page” with a dominant photo, using different typefaces and sizes for various parts of the page, using the same flag as the print paper and setting the type in justified columns.

Also, the trends among printed front pages showed-for the first time-a slowing or even retreat from the modernization bandwagon that enveloped the news industry in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Future studies should certainly monitor whether these “retro” trends continue.

Notes

1. John Nerone and Kevin G. Barnhurst, “Visual mapping and cultural authority: design changes in U.S. newspapers, 1920-1940,” Journal of Communication 45 (spring 1995), 9-43.

2. Mario Garcia, “We’ve come a long way,” The American Editor (April 2000), 4-5. See also, Mario Garcia, “Get a look-your own look,” Editor & Publisher, 26 September 1998, 30-34, in which design “guru” Garcia urges newspapers to stop looking like one another.

3. Ron Johnson, “Design evolution,” The Quill (March 2002), 22-25.

4. Alicia Shepard, “Designer newspapers,” American Journalism Review, (December 1996), 30-35.

5. Joe Strupp, “Designing women (and men),” Editor & Publisher, 16 October 1999, 6.

6. Tony Case, “L.A. Times will sport a new look next year,” Mediaweek, 5 July 1999, 12. See also, Joe Strupp, “News-reader friendly design in Detroit,” Editor & Publisher, 17 April 1999, 50-51.

7. Among them are: San Antonio Express News, Chicago Tribune, and Sacramento Bee. “Three newspapers cut web width in redesigns,” The Quill, (June 2001), 8.

8. “Three newspapers cut web width in redesigns,” The Quill, (June 2001), 8.

9. Stacy Lynch, “Inside satisfaction: What it Means, How to Improve it. Presentation to ASNE,” 11 April 2002, (23 July 2003).

10. “Understanding and improving “easy-to-read” content,” report by the Readership Institute, 2002, (23 July 2003). The researchers found that the use of a featurey style, more go-to information in articles, etc. played a bigger role in increasing navigability.

11. “So what’s next?” The American Editor (April 2000), 28.

12. Melinda McAdams, “Driving a newspaper on the data highway,” Web site located at: http://www.well.com/user/mmcadams/online.newspapers.html (23 July 2003).

13. See Melinda McAdams, “Eliminating Page One,” 1995, (23 July 2003).

14. Other studies have focused on reader reactions and use of design innovations, whether a public opinion poll of reader response to a re-design of a newspaper or an experimental study measuring reader response to some design-based stimulus.

15. Monica Moses, “Consumer mentality,” The American Editor (April 2000), 6-7.

16. See, for example, Edgar Shaohua Huang, “Professionalizing online news photo presentations,” Visual Communication Quarterly (spring 2003), 4-11.

17. Sandra H. Utt, and Steve Pasternack, “Front pages of U.S. daily newspapers,” Journalism Quarterly 61, no.4 (winter 1984), 879-884; Sandra H. Utt, and Steve Pasternack, “How they look: An updated study of American newspaper front pages,” Journalism Quarterly 66, no.3, (autumn 1989), 621-627; Steve Pasternack, and Sandra H. Utt, “A study of America’s front pages: A 10-year update,” (Paper presented at AEJMC, Atlanta, August 1994).

18. Keith Kenney, and Stephen Lacy, “Economic forces behind newspapers’ increasing use of color and graphics,” Newspaper Research Journal 8, no.3 (1987), 33-41.

19. These data are for the newspaper as a whole, not just the front page.

20. Edward Smith, and Donna Hajash, “Informational graphics in 30 daily newspapers,” Journalism Quarterly 65 (1988), 714-718.

21. Sandra H. Utt, Sandra and Steve Pasternack, “Use of graphic devices in a competitive situation: A case study of ten cities,” Newspaper Research Journal 7, no.1 (1985), 7-16.

22. Wilson Lowrey, “The influential designer: Explaining variability in control over news presentation work,” Visual Communication Quarterly, (winter 2002), 4-13.

23. Xigen Li, “Web page design and graphic use of three U.S. newspapers,” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 75, no.2 (summer 1998), 353-365.

24. Edgar Shaohua Huang, “Professionalizing online news photo presentations,” Visual Communication Quarterly (spring 2003), 4-11.

25. Xigen Li, “Web page design affects news retrieval efficiency,” Newspaper Research Journal 23, no.1 (winter 2002), 38-51.

26. See for example Wilson Lowrey, “From map to machine: Conceptualizing and designing news on the Internet,” Newspaper Research Journal 20, no.4 (fall 1999), 14-27. Lowrey cited a study that found that the flashier web sites scored lowest in their usability.

27. Examples of quotes from papers that have a strong photo editor. “It’s great having a designer running the way the front page looks. What a different experience from having a copyeditor making those decisions.” And “we love the change in our product-very much ‘photo driven’ with lots of photo essays.”

28. Large newspapers have a daily circulation of 250,000 or more. Small newspapers have a daily circulation of 50,000 or less.

29. A design stylebook is a set of written guidelines that address all design issues-when and how to vary the column width, for example.

30. Totals are more than 100 percent because newspapers will occasionally run several types of content above their flags.

Utt is an associate professor in the Department of Journalism at the University of Memphis. Pasternack is a professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at New Mexico State University. They wish to thank Lana Sumpter, a designer at The Commencai Appeal in Memphis and an adjunct instructor at the University of Memphis, for her help.

Copyright Newspaper Research Journal, Department of Journalism, University of Memphis Summer 2003

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