Page planning process! Fastest way to plan newspaper pages

Page planning is also referred to as page makeup or design. The three concepts are used to refer to placement of elements on a page. Make up is the arrangement of all the elements of newspaper page. The arrangement and placement of different elements on a page gives a newspaper an attractive look which helps increase readership. The elements include news stories, illustration, cartoons, adverts, among other.

What is page planning?

Newspaper page planning is the process of providing the prototype of the final outlook of each page on dummy sheets. Dummy sheets are usually small versions of an entire page of a newspaper. For magazines it could be a full-sized version. Some newspapers also use full-size versions of dummy sheets to layout pages. The dummy sheet is divided into columns using what is called grid lines. A grid is a set of non-printing lines that help editors and designers guide placement of elements on a page. The grid lines represent the number of columns on each page of a newspaper. If for instance, a newspaper has six columns, the dummy sheet will have six columns. Even while planning a page that will have only two or three columns like the editorial or opinion article page, the six-column dummy sheet can also be used to achieve that. What you do is show the places where the article should appear in the dummy sheet. You can join the columns to achieve that.

Good page planning ensures that a newspaper is easy and convenient to read. This is always the basic concern of readers. How you achieve that is not their interest. This is why page planning is one of the very essential aspects of newspaper production process. Page planning entails laying out elements on a page in a manner that makes it easy for readers to consume the contents. 

Page Planning Quick Guide

Page planning adopts specific patterns to ensure meaningful and orderly story flow. Pages containing more than one staightnews report are often difficult to plan. The quick guide provided here is a relatively easy way for planning the news pages of a newspaper.  The basic fact to note is that well-planned stories (particularly on the pages containing more than one straightnews report) assume specific shapes when closely observed. These shapes are ‘7’, reverse ‘7’, capital or small letter ‘i’, and box.

You do not plan stories to assume the shame of an ‘L’ or reverse ‘L’. Some newspapers make this mistake which is a major error in page planning. This is because an ‘L’- shaped story affects the story flow such that the readers may not immediately know the continuation of a story. Meaningful story flow is affected by an ‘L’-shaped story plan. The meaningful ways to plan a story for the eyes to easily flow as the story is being read are ‘7’, reverse ‘7’, a box shape, and small or capital letter ‘i’. Contents in a page layout that are appealing to the eyes appear in these shapes and patterns when closely observed. The box shape could include a photograph which is part of the story.

A story could also assume a ‘T’ shape after planning but that is a combination of the reverse and normal ‘7’. This means that news stories are planned to flow in form of ‘7’ or reverse ‘7’ shape to aid the eye movement while the reader reads.

Any news report that that assumes and ‘L’ shape after planning MUST have a photograph that combines with the story to give a ‘box’ shape to that layout. The photograph or illustration oftentimes has nothing to do directly with the story in an ‘L’shape.

The fact here is that no story is planned to assume an ‘L’ shape independently. The ‘L’ shape MUST be part of a box shape containing both the story and an illustration or photograph. This is to ensure that the ‘L’- shaped story is isolated from other stories in order not to confuse the reader.

I hope you’ve learnt how to easily and quickly plan the news page of any newspaper. Just follow the instructions given here and page planning will no longer be a problem to you.

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The Author

Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a communication researcher with several years of lecturing experience in Nigerian universities.

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