Field Notes: Words

The Dallas Morning News uses standard summary headlines. They range anywhere from four to ten words. There isn’t a huge range in the type of headline used. I haven’t found any use of hammers in any of the papers I’ve looked at for DMN. About half of the stories have an accompanying deck that is usually two to three lines deep. The headlines are pretty self-explanatory for readers. They offer the readers a pretty good idea of what the story is going to be about.

There are very few pullquotes used throughout the papers. The pullquotes are set off with quotations marks and the text is in a regular font. The type is a few points larger than the regular story. The name of the author of the quote is in bold with their title in regular font. The size of the name matches the same size as the article. The pullquotes tend to be placed at the top of the article in the second column.

The cutlines describe what is happening in the photo and then add to the story. Occasionally, the cutline incorporates a quote. They tend to be one to two sentences each. If a photo is by itself, the cutline provides a little story with it, but they are also two to three lines each. The tone of the cutlines are straightforward and easily accessible to readers.

Credit lines are made up of the photographer and their position at the paper or which paper they are from. If the image is not a photograph, the credit line names the source of the image.

The bylines list the writer’s name and their position at the paper. Some of the bylines include the writer’s email address. The email address is not always provided so this is some inconsistency among the bylines. If the story comes from a wire service, the paper tells readers that the story it’s a wire story by writing “From Wire Reports” before the story. At the end of the story, the paper lists the reporter’s name and the wire service from which it comes.

The approach to the credit lines and bylines works for The Dallas Morning News. However, I would like to see consistency between the staff writer bylines and the wire service bylines.

The promos for DMN are very consistent between the different issues. The paper usually only focuses on one promo above the nameplate for each issues, often about the latest sports scores. The promos are straightforward for readers, but they do have a lighter tone than the headlines.

The refers appear with a light blue screen and give a quick blurb about the story and the page number. The refer is usually newsy and are one sentence to draw in the reader.

The section and department heads for DMN are very generic and straightforward. The front section focuses on world, national and local news. These sections have titles that clearly represent them: World, Nation and Texas & Southwest.