Page One models help you get started

January 14, 2015

By Ed Henninger
Design Elements 

“Well, the design works great. We love the new look. And our readers do, too. But we need some help. We’re concerned about Page One not looking too much the same all the time. Can you help us with that?”


When I receive that kind of note from a client, I get to work creating page models for them to emulate. The Page One models give them something they can look at and follow to help them create well-balanced, focused fronts.

I usually create at least six models: three with a vertical lead photo and three with a horizontal lead photo. There’s an example of each in the illustration accompanying this column.

These are not InDesign or Quark templates. There’s no formatting involved. No style sheets. Just pages with rectangles on them to serve as a guide for creating a good front page.

If you want models for other pages, such as your sports front or opinion page, well, we can create those, too.

The advantages of Page One models:

• They obviate the need for you to reinvent the wheel. You’ve got good models to work from. Choose one of them as your guide and begin to design your front.

• Because the models give you a head start, your design process is usually faster and less encumbered with the feeling that you need to do something different with each Page One design.

• The models give you an approach to Page One that is consistent from issue to issue. Your readers don’t need something on Page One that is much different from the last issue. They just want something they can follow.

• Although giving you a more consistent look, the Page One models (remember, there are at least six of them) are not cookie-cutter designs. They’re not meant to be. They’re guides—not hard-and-fast-you-gotta-do-this designs.

• The models are meant to be flexible. If you don’t have a lead photo in exactly the same proportions as that on the model, that’s fine. If you don’t have a mug shot to go with a story, that’s OK. If you’d rather place the bottom photo to the left side, that’s good, too.

• These models are only starting points. They’re something to help you get your design moving in the right direction. Once your design is going that way, then the model has served its purpose.

• They can change as you update your design. Need some teasers at the top? Fine—adjust the model. Want to use a banner ad across the bottom? OK—adjust the model.

Page One models give you a head start to a well-designed front page in each issue. They’re another tool you can use to create a newspaper that readers will enjoy calling their own.

Want a free evaluation of your newspaper’s design? Contact me at or at 803-327-3322.

If this column has been helpful, you may be interested in my books, “Henninger on Design” and “101 Henninger Helpful Hints.” With the help of my books, you’ll have a better idea how to design for your readers. Find out more at © Ed Henninger 2015


ED HENNINGER is an independent newspaper consultant and the director of Henninger Consulting. On the web: Phone: 803-327-3322.

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