Setting out your newspaper article on a page of a newspaper is more important than the content of the newspaper article itself. Even if you’ve written an award-winning article, few people will take the time to read it if it doesn’t visually attract their attention and the headline doesn’t intrigue their senses in any way. Fortunately, following a few simple rules of newspaper layout and design will make your article appear clean, neat and attractive on the page.
Set a dummy page in front of you and decide where you want the article to go. A dummy page is a sheet of paper you use to plan out the placement of items on a page before you begin designing it within your software program. If it is a feature story or news story of major importance, you will want to put it above the center fold of the page and possibly in the center. If it is a more minor story, you can wait until you’ve placed other stories and advertisements on the page before deciding where the story will go.
Place the photos and captions associated with your article before you place anything else, even the headline. When you have a place for the photo, look over the dummy page to make sure it is visually balanced, meaning no two photos from two different articles are side by side and that the photos are pretty evenly spread out. Make sure that by putting the photo in that location that it is easily associated with the article it goes with and not another one. Change the size and location of the photo as needed.
Choose the font size, boldness and length of your main headline and sub-headline if you want one. If the main headlines stretch across three or more columns, they shouldn’t be more than two lines long. If the headlines stretch across two columns, don’t use more than three lines. What you write for the headline will depend on how much space you have to write it and how well it fills up the space. Try to write a headline that doesn’t leave any extra white space at the end of a line.
Decide which page in the newspaper to finish your article on if it is too long to fit into the allotted space on the first page you place it on. Find that page’s dummy page and plan out the space on that page as well. On the bottom of the article on the first page, place a jump line that says something like “See COURTS | 5A”. On page 5A, place the headline “COURTS” somewhere on the page and put the rest of the article underneath it.
Use the layouts you have created on the dummy pages to set your newspaper article in place using your layout and design software. If necessary, make minor adjustments.
All article elements -- photos, copy and headlines -- should be grouped together in a square or rectangular shape on the page. It is OK if the copy is in an “L” shape as long as there is a photo to fill in the space to turn it into a rectangular shape. This keeps different pieces of news grouped together so one story doesn’t get visually confused with another one.