Design Kompany just wrapped up newspage design for two issues of a Seattle community paper called the Northwest Asian Weekly. Here, Dipika Kohli (below) shares tips on how to lay out information on a page.
Anyone who’s working with images and text on a desktop publishing program ought to keep a few pointers in mind when it comes to design. If you’re working on a newsletter, flyer, or a brochure, here are some things to think about as you create each page.
Break up the gray. No one likes to plough through a sea of gray text. Use photographs and illustrations to mix things up. Try to find nice action shots of people. Nothing draws a person into a story like the image of a face.
Rank your stories. If you have more than one section on your page, think about what the most important stories are. Put them in descending order on the page according to this hierarchy. For headlines towards the bottom of a page, use a larger point size font to attract the reader’s eye.
Don’t clutter the page. Too many competing elements can be distracting. Decide what the dominant element of the page will be, and lay out accordingly.
Use white space. Graphic designers like to talk about “white space,” or areas in a page that allow a reader’s eye to “breathe.” You’ll want to leave plenty of padding around particularly dense areas of imagery and text.
Surprise people. For a story that continues to a new page, reward a reader for turning the page: use a second photograph “after the jump,” as news industry folks like to say. Advertisements, too, can break up the page and be attractive if they have strong compositions and artwork.
Add variety. Use different sized photos and graphics to add interest. You don’t have to go to expensive, glossy or full-color print production to get people’s attention. Be bold with the resources you have at hand: use strong contrast and compelling imagery. Use horizontal and vertical rules to lead the eye around the page.
If you don’t have a lot of photos to use, try pulling out intriguing quotes that help tell the story. Create a sidebar with related information. Or use a short caption with a strong photo as a filler.
But don’t get carried away with too much formatting, or use too many different fonts. That sort of thing is distracting.