Field Notes: Words

Headlines are generally no longer than 4 lines, though most are 1 to 2 lines in The Guardian. The Guardian uses subheads and decks sparingly. A subhead or deck will usually only appear at most on one article per page. However, when The Guardian does use subheads and decks, it’s usually two subheads/decks that are separated by a line. It’s interesting that they don’t just use one subhead/deck per article, but they use two. The tone of the headlines is usually informative and serious, for example “Domestic abuse has affected 30% of women, figures reveal.” But they can also be witty at times, for example “Darling , you’re one in a hundred million. Here’s a gift to prove it.” The Guardian headlines are usually newsy headlines that get to the point and summarize the story.

Example of a newsy headline.

Example of a newsy, one-line headline. This also shows the use of two subheads underneath the headline.

 

Example of a witty headline.

Example of a witty headline.

Pull quotes are used sparingly by The Guardian. There’s often less than five per issue. It’s good that The Guardian uses pull quotes sparingly because it could lessen the impact of a pull quote if they are used more often. When pull quotes are used, they are interesting and well-chosen, drawing the reader to the article. Pull quotes are only attributed in The Guardian when it is a direct quote from a source. Often, The Guardian does not use direct quotes from sources, but instead picks out interesting information from the article, for example “Every prediction made by the Africans was right. Prices soared. In 10 years elephant numbers halved.” This is interesting information from the article, but it isn’t a direct quote.

Example of a pull quote with information from the text.

Example of a pull quote with information from the text.

Cutlines and captions generally aren’t more than 1 line, but occasionally are 2. They usually summarize a major point in the story or give a description of what is in the photo, for example “Letve Osmanova, a 21-year-old Bulgarian Muslim or Pomak, in traditional garb at her wedding in the village of Ribnovo.” If there was a photographer involved with taking the photo, “Photograph: Photographer’s name/where they work” will follow the caption. If the photo was provided or a stock photo, that information will appear in the caption. The cutline/caption is black and the byline is gray. I think this is good because it helps separate the caption from the byline, but I think it lessens the impact of the photographer’s name. I would figure out some other way to distinguish the two, perhaps by italicizing the photographer’s name.

Example of a witty headline.

Example of a caption/cutline.

Promos and refers on the front page of The Guardian are generally short and conversational. They usually reference something in entertainment or pop culture to catch reader’s interest. Occasionally, promos and refers can be newsy, but in general, they are conversational. This is good design because you want your promos and refers to communicate with the reader and draw them in. This is more effectively done by being conversational. The refers within the newspaper usually reference more articles similar to the one in the paper that can be found online. They have a headline and a quick description or quote from the online article. This is good design because space is limited in a newspaper, and instead of referring readers to another article within the paper, it’s smart to refer them to articles online. Drawing readers to articles online increases web traffic to The Guardian’s website and gives readers access to articles they wouldn’t have found within the paper.

Examples of promos on the front page.

Examples of promos on the front page.

Example of refers to articles online.

Example of refers to articles online.

 

For The Guardian, the bylines and credit lines are usually just the name of the writer, but for photographers, it follows this format: “Photograph: Photographer name/where they work.” Also, some of the writer bylines include the individual’s position on the paper, for example if they are an editor. The photographer byline is a bit better than the writer byline because it gives a little bit more information. However, it would be nice if all bylines were consistent, for example if all had the writer’s position — even if they don’t work there, put “contributing writer.” If all bylines could also include information about how to contact the writer or photographer, that would be better. Also, with the writer byline, it would be better to use “By: Writer’s name” because it helps clarify why that name is where it is — though I’m sure most people can figure that out.

 

Example of a cutline/caption.

Example of a photographer’s byline.

Example of a witty headline.

Example of a writer’s byline.

 

The section/department names are pretty generic and include the following: News, National, International, Eyewitness, Financial, Comment and Debate, Reply, Reviews, Obituaries, Crossword and Weather. The only one that really stands out to me as different is the “Eyewitness” section. Also, when something huge is happening, The Guardian devotes a new section of the paper to what’s happening, for example there was a flood, so The Guardian created a new section called “Flood Crisis.” Its good design to keep sections consistent from one issue to the next in order to build reader familiarity with the paper. However, it’s also good that The Guardian changes things up from time to time by adding in new sections to keep reader interest and show readers something different.

Example of a new section, "Flood Crisis."

Example of a new section, “Flood Crisis.”

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