How to make a newspaper dummy sheet

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Newspaper dummy sheets are used to help professional and training newspaper editors in the organisation of content for a printed or digital newspaper, magazine or journal. They are also used in schools and journalistic educational environments to help media students learn more about the editorial process.

Newspaper dummy sheets must account for the inclusion of journalistic content and advertising space.

Research, style and purpose

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Choose a format of newspaper dummy sheet based on the kind of publication you intend to run. Newspapers can either adopt the broadsheet or the tabloid format. This factor dictates the amount of space available for text columns and the ratio of images over text. Focus on the audience, style and purpose.

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Examine the format of established newspapers, magazines and journals (either online or in print) that target your readership. Look at those publications that cover the same subjects you intend to focus on. Research and comparison will solidify the design. Effective newspaper dummy sheets are not generic.

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Define the generic elements of the newspapers or magazines you study and make a list of the important components. For example, all newspapers divide pages into columns for text and image boxes. The number, length and sizes of each will depend on your target audience, publication style and journalistic purpose. All newspapers have a page dedicated to the editorial team information and spaces for advertisements.

Design and creativity

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Create alternative dummy sheet designs, particularly for your first publication. Think about what your target audience wants from a newspaper and let this guide your designs. Your audience might need a stronger focus on image over text and these considerations will dictate the layout.

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Show a range of sample newspaper dummy sheets from your collection to a range of people who fall into the demographics of your target audience and ask them to vote on their favourite designs. Find out the reasons for their decisions as well. This will inform your changes or developments.

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Define the final designs of all the important pages. Include templates for the front page, the back cover, a feature article double spread, a page devoted to advertising, the editorial page, a short article page and a news-in-brief section. A newspaper many different layouts. For each page template, consider the amount of space dedicated to columns for text in comparison to boxes for images. Always bear your target audience in mind when making template design decisions.