Libération is published in a compact tabloid format, which gives a modern look that resembles a magazine more than a newspaper. It does not have the traditional newspaper format; thus, it reaches out to a newer and younger audience. The publication does not have a set grid format, so it varies from day to day. Overall, it has a modular layout – rectangles of photos are often stacked together to form the page. This provides structure and also gives a professional look. However, since the grid is inconsistent, there are times when it uses a non-modular layout.
The purpose of Libération’s front page is to catch the audience’s attention and also to provide a glimpse into the stories inside the newspaper. Unlike the front pages of other newspapers that are heavily text-based, the A1 of Libération usually consists of several photos or even a single dominant image with just headlines and a sentence or two. I think this makes it less overwhelming than other newspapers.
As for the hierarchy among elements on the front page, Libération highlights the most pressing news by making it the dominant image on the page. In addition, it adjusts font sizes to emphasize certain issues; the bigger the font is, the more important the story is. All the headlines are in bold sans serif typeface, giving the page a very clean look and making it easily noticeable. Moreover, Libération effectively arranges photos and text in order to draw the reader into the newspaper. In the example shown below, the reader’s eyes are naturally drawn to the boy in the dominant photo, and then led to the headlines, because the boy’s eyes are looking in that direction. The captions or the lead sentence to a story is usually found just below headlines, so that the readers’ eyes can easily follow them.
The front page always includes the nameplate, which shifts positions daily (top left, top center, or top right). The iconic red diamond-shaped box lets the readers immediately know which publication it is. Other design elements that Libération frequently uses on the front page are reverses and teasers. Reverses are used to make the headlines stand out, and dark images often portray the gravity of the situation. Teasers, along with a jump line, are always found on the front page to convince the audience to continue reading inside the newspaper. Moreover, the colors red, white and black are used frequently on the front page for branding, which matches the Libération’s nameplate. A lot of the dominant images and the headlines consist of the publication’s main colors.
Photos and illustrations play a large role in the publication’s front page. As aforementioned, the A1 of Libération consists of more images than text. It utilizes both horizontal and vertical photos on the front page. Most of the time, the publication uses actual photos, but it also uses illustration. The publication’s approach reminds me of the well-known statement that a picture is worth a thousand words. It tells the main story to the readers by using a powerful image with the least amount of words; it lets the image communicate to the readers.
The implicit message behind the front page of the publication is that it is new, fresh and also informative. It implies that it is able to report hard news stories in a non-traditional, innovative way.
Overall, Libération is very consistent in using its main colors – red, black and white. The iconic nameplate is always present on the front page. On the other hand, there is no set format of the front page. Although it does give a new and fresh look everyday, it would also be nice to have some consistent layouts. Moreover, images do provide a lot of information, but if there’s only one dominant image on the front page, I think it fails to highlight some of the key stories that the readers may not get to read.