As an online Editor-in-Chief I do not usually contribute a lot to the actual designing and creating of the print news, as that is the job of the print leaders. However, it is important as a leader to have an understanding of both sections, in order to successfully lead all staff.
To explain my knowledge as an assistant to print, I will be using two layouts I have made on InDesign, using mock stories. Beginning with the layout as a whole, there are four common elements to print design, which are text, art, cutlines and headlines.
Obviously, the actual bulk of the publication, the text, is going to be the most important to the page as a whole. Each column, being spaced a pica apart and justified, it is made easier for the viewer to read. This part of the paper can either be straightforward and boring, or it can be broken up by boxes per story, or with section breaks, making it visually interesting. Furthermore we can use indentations, size of text, bullets, bolding or a large capital letter to not only signify a change in the passage, but to add appeal.
Two styles of fonts primarily used in print are serif and sans serif, serif having wings at the tip of the letter and sans (without) lacking those wings. Sans serif is primarily used in headlines and/or cutlines for means of spacing and contrast. On the flip side, we resort to serif for the body text, since the wings on the letters are said to help the reader connect words. Along with text, it is important to understand leading as well, otherwise known as the vertical space between lines of text. In example, there is leading spacing (single spaced) in between this sentence and the sentence above. Leading is strategically used in print to prevent lines from stacking ontop of eachother.
The artwork of the publication is equally important as is the text. Today, with many things going digital, consumers expect to see a visual that will make paper worth their time- and it is the responsibility of the print editor to make that happen. With my background in AP studio art and numerous painting and photography competitions, it is important to note that not on the graphic/photo is to be of high quality and unique, but of an interesting size too. Furthermore, print needs to have lead-ins and lead-outs, beginning with an image in the top left and one in the bottom right is a crucial element to leading the reader along each page.
Imagine a paper, would a slim vertical image down the side drag in a reader more so than a boring 1:1 square in the corner? Yes. Would an oversized, pixelated image entice a reader more than a large, high resolution (300dpi) image? No. Would a one sentence-one image graphic peak interest more than a colorful, intricate, easy-to-follow graphic? No.
The next topic of discussion is cutlines or captions, which go hand-in-hand with specifically photos (and sometimes graphics) in print. Pictures alone are a story, but cutlines fill the who, what, where and when. Cutlines usually contrast nearby text, such as using a sans serif font if the body of its story is in serif. For more visual appeal, cutlines can rest below or beside the photos; one major thing to avoid however, is gang cutlines, where the cutline is placed in between photos- making the reader overwhelmed.
Finally, the first taste of the story is the headline. A common saying is, “headlines are like neon signs.” These are the very reason a reader is either interested, or completely turned off. They’re a tiny summarization of a story, they make the decision for a reader.
It is very important for a leader to know all parts of their paper, even if one is simply general knowledge. By knowing the basic elements to print, I have been made more versatile to my staff, and more helpful to my print editors.