How to Format a Newspaper Page


Formatting a newspaper page means arranging its contents in a way that helps readers easily navigate through the day's stories. There are several factors affecting the layout of a newspaper page, including the paper's format, broadsheet or tabloid for instance, the number and nature of news stories included within a page, the available photographs for stories and the advertisements news designers are obliged to include. However, all newspapers must employ certain fundamental techniques, without which the paper becomes virtually unreadable.

  • Leave a space of at least 1-inch on all four sides of the page. No text, picture or background must go beyond these boundaries. This way, you avoid losing valuable content -- especially text -- during the printing process.

  • Add a running head on top of the page. The running head -- which must be present on all pages but the front one -- must mention the newspaper's section, such as "Local News" or "Sports," the page number and the date. It's preferable to place the page number on the outside corner of the page.

  • Reserve space at the top of the page for the most important story. The less important stories, which must always be smaller than the main story, should be placed below the main story -- you can also reserve a column for a secondary story on the edge of the page. Always check if the page will feature an advertisement and determine the ad's size, before arranging the stories on the page.

  • Organize the main body of each news story into columns. Newspapers are not books and lines of text stretching the width of the page can tire readers quickly. The columns should be about 10 picas -- or 1 4/5-inches -- wide.

  • Enter a headline and -- optionally -- a subhead above each news story. The headline and subhead must stretch across the entire width of the story. Both the "head" and the "deck" -- journalism jargon for subhead -- must feature a font size larger than that of the main story, while the headline font size must be at least 1.5 times larger than the deck's font size.

  • Use pictures only when it is absolutely necessary, as they will take up space otherwise available for text. Always allow space to add a caption below the image, unless it is a tiny picture described within the text, followed by the word "pictured" in parenthesis.

  • Add advertisements on the sides of the page, if necessary, so that the news stories remain uninterrupted. If the advertisement features a white background, frame it -- enclose it within thin black lines -- to help the reader distinguish between advertisements and news stories.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a desktop publishing software, such as Microsoft Publisher or Adobe InDesign to organize the page layout.
  • Keep the same main body font size for all stories of your newspaper and don't alter it when a story does not fit the page. On such occasions, remove the final -- and least important -- paragraphs of the story.
  • Subheads within the news stories must be in bold, so that separate sections of the story are easily distinguishable.

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