The Dallas Morning News: Covers and A1’s

The Dallas Morning is a typical broadsheet newspaper that uses a five column grid. It, indeed, uses modular design to further break down these five columns and break up sections. The front page almost always has two stories underneath one large headline, a story with art (may or may not be the A1), and at least one other story. Furniture includes teasers and blurbs from other sections that move from a rail on the left side of the page to stripped across the bottom. There is almost a (ugly) skytop above the nameplates teasing a feature story inside as well.

The DMN recently went through a redesign as well. If you click here it takes you to an interactive map that tells you what they have changed, including many furniture pieces that are staples of the paper. Though the entire objective of the redesign was to make the paper easier to read and use, one critic takes issue with that idea entirely.

“I take issue with the body copy. They’ve increased the point size, used a bolder font, and aired out the leading. To my eye, it makes the paper look less serious, like less of a read. It’ll certainly make every story in the paper shorter.

But here’s my two cents: I don’t want my newspaper easier to read. I want it smarter to read, more engaging to read. I actually want it more challenging to read.

And the idea of making it “easier to use” is patently silly. It’s not a universal remote. It’s a newspaper. If the DMN is trying to reach people who are having trouble using a newspaper, they are in worse trouble than I imagined.”

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what most of the front page of the DMN does, it is very much aired out and uses lots of colors and labels to let the reader know exactly what they are getting in each section and story.

The hierarchy of stories sometimes gets muddled and it’s hard to tell which story is the A1. Sometimes the A1 isn’t the story that has art so it is stripped across the top with a bold headline weight, which makes sense. Other times, however, what looks like the A1 is actually not on the top of the page at all, but underneath another story that has a lighter weight. Within the story, I think hierarchy is achieved with headlines, deks, and their labeling system, but it is hardly clever or a superb example of great design.

In most front pages of the DMN, there is usually one A1 photo and a tease photo, which I’m sure is due to the fact of how large the type is and their use of ample white space and rules between stories. Other visuals, however, are used in the form of screens.

Overall, I’d say the DMN is very consistent with their style from issue to issue.



  1. “I don’t want my newspaper easier to read. I want it smarter to read, more engaging to read. I actually want it more challenging to read.”


  2. Even though it’s used without hesitation by many in the industry, I would like to see you get away from using “art” to refer to photography, illustrations and infographics. The term woefully under-represents the value and content that visual media bring to a page.

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