Los Angeles Times Field Notes: Color

Compared to some international newspapers we’ve reviewed this semester, The Los Angeles Times exercises restraint in its use of color. The old-timey typeface used for the paper’s nameplate is black, mirroring other prominent national newspapers with strong regional focuses such as The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune and The New York Times. Save for a dominant color photo or information graphic accompanying the A1 and occasional color photos running alongside  lesser-ranked stories, the front page is dominated by black text. A spectrum of black, ranging from lighter greys to a bolder black fluctuates throughout the newspaper. Sub-sections within sections, for example, are introduced with a black or white type against a grey gradient. The Los Angeles Times seldom deviates from this monochromatic color palette, doing so only to call added attention to larger enterprise pieces and when signifying a section change. Red or gold colored text highlights the names of columnists in the Opinion section, presumably to differentiate the content from straight news reporting. Color is also used to signal a section change. For example, a solid block of red serves as the backdrop to the white text to signify the “Calendar” section.

Here’s the front page to one of the LA Times’s more recent Wednesday papers. The restrained use of color is indicative of most news days.

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The banner introducing “The World” section shows the LA Times’s minimal use of color.

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Even when color can be employed on the page, the paper exercises restraint. Where the headline “The Big Rebound” and other elements on the page such as the numbers accompanying the information graphic could have been conveyed in color, the paper relied instead on large point size and capital letters to relay the piece’s importance.

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Debbie Truong