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Field Notes: Furniture

Nameplate: The name of a newspaper as it’s displayed on Page One.

nyt nameplate

The New York Times’ nameplate is very distinctive due to its large size and its extremely original type face, which was hand drawn and has no matching typeface. The nameplate features letters that are black, which are a stark contrast from the white page, and have thick and thin sections of each letter. It is most often placed in the center at the very top of the page, which makes it stick out even more than it would have already. Many newspapers, such as the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune, also use similar typefaces for their nameplate, so this kind of nameplate has become kind of standard for this genre of newspaper, maybe NYT would do well with a revamp.


Teaser: An eye-catching graphic element, on Page One or section fronts, that promotes an item inside.

nyt teaser refer cutline

On the front page of the January 20th issue of The New York Times, there were two teasers featured. Teasers in the NYT usually consist of a really eye catching image with action going on in the shot, with a description under the image that tells you a little bit about what the story is about and where you can find it. What can be a little jarring when it comes to the NYT teasers is that sometimes they can seem a little out of place. For example, on the 1/20 issue, there is a teaser with two big pictures of footballers and they are surrounded by stories about foreign policy and social issues.


Cutlines: A line or block of type providing descriptive information about a photo.

nyt cutlines

The New York Times‘ cutlines are a week spot for me. When they are not a teaser for another story, often times, they blend right into the body of the story. While the lines of description have a different typeface from the rest of the story, it’s not enough to set it apart. The only semi-noticeable difference is that it usually spans the amount of columns that the picture it’s describing does. Some people might not catch this and get confused though.


Continuation Lines: Type telling the reader that a story continues on another page.

nyt continuation lines

The New York Times places its continuation lines about a line’s height away from the last line of the story. The type is italicized and centered. The centering of the line is not ideal. I think that aligning the line right may have been a better choice.


nyt rules bylineRules: A printing term for a straight line.

The New York Times uses rules that are one pixel in size to separate just about everything – body from pictures, headlines from decks from bylines, the nameplate from the rest of the paper. I believe they are a little rule happy. They make the newspaper look a little busy and they distract from other design elements. For example, why do you need a rule to seperate a deck from a byline when the byline is a completely different font? It stands out on its own already.

Bylines: The reporter’s name, usually at the beginning of a story.

This plays off the rule section: The bylines in The New York Times are the smallest size on the page and are bold. I think they are effective, but the rules they use to separate them from the rest of the story make things a little bit busy.


Boxes: Ruled borders around a story or art.

The New York Times sometimes uses boxes to seperate stories from other stories on the page. There doesn’t seem to be any reason why they sometimes choose to use a box and sometimes choose to use rules. What is not effective in the case of the boxes is when they do not make sure that the boxes’ lines are lined up correctly. A perfectionist might be annoyed by seeing a box with one side being a pixel off.

nyt box


Folios: Type at the top of an inside page giving the newspaper’s name, date and page number.

nyt folio

The New York Times’ folio is a little strange in that utilizes a rule to separate the folio from the rest of the page, but the put the date on the left, above the rule, and the title of the publication in the center, under the rule. This seems a little bit off. I think they should keep both elements above the rule or not use the rule at all.


Wrap/Skews: Text that wraps around a photo or artwork.

nyt wrap

The New York Times uses wraps sparingly, often choosing to make images fit into the entire columns of a story.When they do use them, they use them well, in my opinion. It seems in the case of the image I’ve added above, the picture involved was too small to take up a whole column so they decided to use a wrap and center the image in between columns. I think this was a good design choice, but I also think it is best to try to stay away from wraps as much as possible, especially in smaller stories.


Drop Caps: A large letter to mark the start of a text.

The New York Times doesn’t use drop caps often anymore – maybe because when they did, they didn’t look so hot. For example, in the image on the right, the letter after the drop cap does not have the same amount of space from the drop cap as the rest of the story. This was probably because they wanted the reader to know it was one word, but it looks a little messy.nyt drop caps

Noelle Devoe

One Comment

  1. Nice job, Noelle. … 1) I totally agree on the cutline issue. 2) Remember that not all folios are to the left. Depends on whether it’s an odd or even page. 3) You’re spot on with the wraps. 3) Nice eye on the drop cap alignment. It’s an easy fix, too. : )

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