Design, headlines and decks, served with a side of chicken salad

Before today, I don’t think I would connect the session title “Chicken Salad” with newspaper layout and design. But that’s exactly what the session was about. Led by Florida Atlantic University’s Michael Koretzky, the session went over what not to do for front-page, feature and doubletruck designs, accompanied by Koretzky’s unapologetic, crudely humorous approach in appealing to college students.

The session was useful, in that I haven’t had too much exposure to design techniques and it was helpful to get the basic tips and tricks in layout design, for various pages throughout a newspaper. Some of the tips were common knowledge: don’t use too many photos on the front page, establish a hierarchy, don’t use boring people in photos (wait, really?). But some tips were not as well-known and I particularly liked Koretzky’s point about decks. They should be informative. Using numbers is a really good idea, to give a statistic or fact behind a headline that isn’t as detailed a more real quality about it. Additionally, I agreed with his point about charts; too many times, charts are not clear or understandable. As Koretzky put it: if you can’t understand the chart, nobody will.

Although I found Koretzky’s approach to the topics he discussed a bit unnecessary and over-the-top, his advice was good to consider, as the pages he had redesigned were completely transformed and effectively designed. I learned a lot from his snapshot tips and tricks, and some of the ones I particularly liked are included here:

  • Photos must be relevant and tell stories.
  • Don’t have too many stories on one page.
  • Make headlines interesting and relevant to your audience.
  • One photo can sometimes carry a whole page.
  • Use only one pull-out quote per page.
  • Use gutters in a doubletruck.
  • Get rid of lists.
  • Always have a verb in a headline.
-Ashley Fahey
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