Paper design printed at the Daily Northwestern

In this series, Daily staff members hope to provide more transparency about how we operate. If you would like to submit a question to be answered here, please email Editor-in-Chief Isabelle Sarraf at [email protected].

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a writer to participate in the Daily. Producing printed paper is teamwork. Journalists create stories, illustrators and photographers provide visuals, and designers bring it all together and curate a paper you can hold in your hands.

Here’s why our paper printed twice a week looks like this, explained by a dive into all the work our designers have done behind the scenes.

The structure of a printing paper

Most printed materials are eight pages. The front page typically consists of four articles highlighting breaking news and top stories, including two from the campus office and two from the city office. With each issue, we alternate the placement of campus and city stories, including which office receives the largest front-page photo. The sixth page of the document contains the rest of the text of each of these stories and is commonly referred to as a break.

The front page highlights the most important news of the day, so its layout is given a lot of thought, both from a journalistic point of view and from a design point of view. The most important story usually receives the largest front-page photo, above the newspaper fold. (Here is an overview of how we choose the news to cover first.) Our editor, editors, and editors also need to consider which stories go well together in terms of tone when compiling the page.

Not all stories can make headlines. Additionally, word count affects story placement, as it determines the size of the accompanying photo and what other stories can be placed on the same page. This is where our design team comes in. The editorial team offers advice to ensure articles not only fit on their pages, but also look good and get the attention they deserve.

The second and third pages, called “Around Town” and “On Campus”, are half-pages dedicated to the content of our town and campus offices, respectively. These usually contain a feature story and sometimes a short story of each office.

The fourth and fifth pages vary by night. We usually alternate between an opinion section and an arts and entertainment section.

The seventh page is a “free for all” where editors can choose which other articles they want to publish in print. It is usually half a page, with the other half containing advertisements.

The last page is devoted to the sports office. The first photo on the last page alternates the sides of each number.

A print paper from start to finish

Editors meet in the newsroom every evening from Sunday to Thursday to discuss what we will publish for the following day. On Sunday evenings and Thursday evenings, we also prepare to lay out the printed paper, discussing the order, word count and visuals for each story.

Designers can only place articles in the journal document after they have been edited by three or four editors, including the editor. If we encounter space and visual issues, our core editors will swap one story for another, change the layout of the newspaper entirely, or remove parts of the story from its print edition. At the end of the night, top publishers write the headlines. We then export the paper, upload it to the printer’s server and call the printer to make sure they have received it.

The process is not the same every night. During the fall terms, for example, we include a Gameday edition in our printed journal every Thursday. For home matches, we design a four-page insert with a themed cover. Inside, in addition to sports stories, we’ll include an early pitch layout, new photos and Big Ten standings and predictions for next week’s games.

Perhaps the most satisfying part of the job is picking up a printed newspaper from one of the newsstands located on campus and around Evanston.

Get involved in the design

No skills? No problem. It’s super easy to get involved in the design. At Le Quotidien, we have two design offices: Design and Illustrations. Within the design office, you participate in the layout of the printing paper, in addition to special issues. In the illustration office, you help create graphics for web and print stories. None of these offices require knowledge of any software. We train journalists in these skills when they join our team.

We hold general training at the start of each quarter, but anyone involved with The Daily is welcome to come and chat with us individually. The majority of print paper training usually takes place on the job during print shifts – designers can sign up to come into the design room and help lay out a few pages. During this shift, we will explain how to layout paper and how to use Adobe InDesign, our main publishing software.

If you have any questions about joining our design team or would like to register, please contact the emails listed below.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @amittal27

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @yikesmeher

Related stories:

From the newsroom: how to pitch a story idea to The Daily and how we decide what news to cover

From the Newsroom: The Daily’s fact-checking and correction process, explained

From the newsroom: how the Daily decides which editorials to publish

About Debra D. Johnson

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