Written by Carly Orewiler, class of 2020

JOB DESCRIPTION: The design editor (or art director) is responsible for the layout and design of print material, social cards and other specific design requests such as illustrations or graphics for stories. The editor will also be responsible for hiring, training and managing a team of designers to work for them. 

RESOURCES: These websites have free stock photos or random vectors: 

https://unsplash.com/ | https://www.pexels.com/ | https://www.freepik.com/

For the iPad, I often use drawing apps to make visuals. Some of my favorites are Adobe Fresco (offers smoothing effects and life-like effects such as paints, pens, etc.) Adobe Illustration (more basic model) and Adobe PhotoMix (to cut out photos with more precision). Some people prefer to do these things on a desktop, but these apps on the iPad are very user-friendly and fun. Also, you can use Adobe Spark, which is both an app and a website, to make social cards, gifs  or posters. 


  • Try and focus on work during the day between classes if you can. Your attention span will be going back and forth between class and work, which can be difficult, but it’s helpful to complete tasks in chunks. In the same vein, you are free to go into the newsroom whenever inspiration hits you or whenever you can give your project the amount of concentration you need to get it done. I found myself going to the newsroom late at night for bigger projects such as CQ because they required more mental capacity that I couldn’t always offer during the day, especially with the hustle and bustle of the newsroom in general. 
  • Don’t be afraid to put your earbuds in and drown people out. As mentioned above, the newsroom can be loud and distracting. If you need to be a tad antisocial in order to get work done, there’s no shame in that. 
  • At the same time, don’t ignore people or create an environment of secludedness for you and your team. It’s very important for designers to not only know people in the room, but to know what’s going on. You or your teammate might come up with an idea for a graphic after hearing a reporter talk about a story, even if they didn’t request one. By listening and being present in the newsroom conversation when you can, the design desk will become more integrated and proactive about visual supplements in the content The Daily pushes out. 
  • Be prepared as possible for Sunday productions, and things will be faster and smoother. This may seem like an obvious one, but preparation can go farther than you imagine. Staying an extra hour on Friday afternoons to plan the paper and get a taste for what the stories are going to be like gives you the whole weekend to think about design and layout. 
  • Share specific ideas you have with the visual desk before it’s too late. For the print paper and CQ, the design editor should share any and all ideas for visuals during the planning stage. Not that the photographers can’t help you with a late request, but it’s best to get a vision the few weeks before the CQ deadline, or the weekdays before production. As you can imagine, this requires tons of communication with the visual desk, enterprise, news, culture, etc. You have to know what these stories are about in order to draw inspiration from them. 
  • Read the stories you design. This isn’t always as relevant for the print paper, especially since a lot of stories and even DOM come in the day of production. But for things like CQ, you have to read the story in order to serve it. They usually come in about 2 weeks before deadline, so you have time to digest and brainstorm. 

ISSUU: Issuu is the website the OU Daily uses to store and record print products online. Here you can find every CQ, regular newspaper, Living Guides, special publications, New to OU guides, etc (in recent years, not sure how far this goes back.) As the design editor, you are in charge of uploading those publications onto the website. Here is your step-by-step guide:

  • To get to the website, click visit our Issuu page. It should also be bookmarked on the design editor computer at all times. 
  • The link will bring you to the OU Daily homepage, but you still need to log in. Go to the top right and click “LOG IN.” (See the editor-in-chief or adviser for the password.)
  • Once you’re signed in, go to the top right and click “PUBLISH.” Next, click on the orange plus sign on the menu bar on the left to create a new draft.
  • You will title the content according to its name. For example, Winter 2019 Crimson Quarterly, Fall 2020 Living Guide, or simply the date for newspapers, such as Jan. 19-25, 2019. For these dates, make sure the first number is the Monday it’s printed, and the last number is the Sunday before the next paper comes out. 
  • No description is necessary. All you need to do is scroll down and click the circle that says “Editorial.” 
  • Scroll back up. It’s now time to prepare your document to upload. 
  • This website only allows for the upload of 1 document per publish. This means we typically have to compile pdfs in Adobe Acrobat in order to upload them (this usually is for newspapers and Living Guides since the pages are all separate, unlike a magazine where it’s compiled in one document before it’s sent to OU Printing Services.)
  • To do this, go to the Exports/Pages to Send folder on the server, and find the date for the publication you wish to compile. Each folder is named with the corresponding pub date, so it should be very easy. 
  • Because these will all be pdfs already, all you have to do is click the first page, hold down shift, and click to the last page. Then you control-click and open all the files. 
  • Next, you will find the toolbar on the right hand side of the menu and find the purple button that says “Combine Files.” If it’s not in the toolbar shown, it might be hidden under “More Tools.” Once you click on the button, click the option that says “Add all open files.” 
  • Your screen will load a series of pages to be combined. They will most likely be out of order in a backwards fashion. This gets annoying for longer publications, but it shouldn’t be too hard to fix. You can drag the pages back in order, then press combine. Save the new compiled file as whatever it suggests, like Binder1 or whatever. It doesn’t really matter. It will automatically save it in the correct folder in the Pages To Send. 
  • Once you have it saved, all you have to do is drag it into the box at the top of the ISSUU page, or you can press “Your Device” and upload it from there. 
  • If you are publishing a pdf that’s already compiled, such as a CQ, all you have to do is drag the pdf from Today’s Layouts, and you’re done. 
  • Press publish, and you’re all set! It will take a few minutes for ISSUU to approve the publication, and it will show up on the OU Daily homepage momentarily. 
  • Disclaimer: ISSUU automatically formats pages to face each other. This means if you export anything in spreads and not pages, there will be a trio of pages instead of a duo. For ISSUU and packaging purposes, export everything into pages. 
  • The only time I used the “spreads” option is for when I printed magazine pages for proof. 
  • If you forget to publish on ISSUU, you can also set a backdate to go back and fill any gaps. This setting is below the “Type” menu where you clicked “Editorial.”
  • I never really used ISSUU as a social/inspiration thing, but I wish I did. You can look up other colleges or publications if you want to check them out or see what they’re up to. 

OU PRINTING SERVICES: For newspapers and all tabloid-broadsheet printing, we send our pages to The Norman Transcript to print. For all other magazine-type content, we print through the OU Printing Services. This requires a different preparation process.

  • Instead of exporting all the pages separately, you will package them. Once you have finished making all your finals edits, go to File-Package-Package. Save it as the publication name, and put it in the correct folder in Today’s Layouts. Make sure the PDF present is saved under High Quality Print, and press Package again.
  • Press OK and wait for the process to finish. It may take several minutes. 
  • Once it’s done, go back into the publication folder in Today’s Layouts and find the packing folder you just created. Make sure there are pdfs, fonts, and document links in the folder. 
  • Control-click the folder and press “Compress.” This will create a zip file you need to send to the printing services.
  • Once you have the zip file, go to the OU Printing Services website. 
  • Find the left-side menu and click on the tab that says “Upload Orders.” 
  • Type in your name, cell, and school email. Then you can drag in your zip file. 
  • I usually tell the printing services what it is and make sure they know they can contact me or Seth at any time with any questions. I do this in the little comment section under the “Add Files” button. 
  • Lastly, select Kristina Sever in the “Select Project Manager” drop-down menu. She is the one that coordinates our projects. 
  • She will be in contact with you and send you a print proof in a few days. This is the prototype for the magazine, and you can catch mistakes or make any changes at this time. You will have to re-package and send her your edits when it comes time to make the final product. Try not to keep the proof longer than 2 days, so the process can keep rolling on time. Remember Ad has to approve it, too. 

NEWSPAPERS: Production is every week on Sundays, as you know. I like to have 1-2 designers on hand during this day (so that’s 2-3 including you.) It helps to stagger out shifts so you aren’t without help for too long. 

As far as design, try to spice things up when you can. You will start planning the paper on Thursday and Friday of the previous week, so you have all weekend to plan on top of that. 

Don’t be afraid to reach out to reporters and ask them to tell you about their article if you want to make a cool visual or graph for it. You can also request to get rough drafts of stories or request to read DOM/others ahead of time if it’s ready. I usually just slack the reporter one-on-one this way. 

Freaky Photo Friday also helps tons! While planning the paper layout on Friday, sit down with the visual desk and go through their ideas about DOM images/visuals/possible collaboration on a cool graphic or talk through which stories may not have any art at all.

It’s OK to have pages where not every story has a picture, but you want as many visuals as possible. At the end of the day, you need at LEAST 1 visual on each page, but if the page has 3-4 stories on it, try to get 2-3 visuals on it. 

Now we’re getting down to the specifics. 

For the front page, I usually stick to a 5-column grid system (6-grid on all the other pages). You can go smaller and go to 4, but I wouldn’t go any lower than that. It starts to look tacky and not newspapery if you get the columns too wide. Unless, of course, something huge happens like an obituary for David Boren or something. I know the LA Times did a huge pic of Kobe with a one-grid blurb beneath it, and it didn’t look bad bc of the situation. 

Remember the top-down method when designing in general. Big pics at top, little ones at bottom. Blow the impressive art up so it’s on display, and if you have a shitty image you have to make large, think about alternative layouts so it’s avoidable. Don’t settle for old pics or ones that we’ve used a thousand times over (especially ones of campus). If a photographer needs to go out and get you one production night, so be it. You’re in charge of how this baby looks. If you need to make a little pull-out graph or info chart last-minute, do it! You will thank yourself when you pick it up on the racks the next day. 

When you are pulling things out of the Daily libraries, make sure you are editing everything!!! It’s so easy to drag and place something, only to forget about the date at the top or the page number. 

Pull quotes and little list-like charts are a great option for breaking up text and adding an interactive quality to the paper. 

Side note: On some of the computers, the large quotation marks on the current pull quote template get stretched out. On the main design computer, always check to make sure the quotation marks are in the original font. I think it’s Utopia Std. but I can’t be 100% sure. 

When you are proofing, here’s a list of things you need to check:

  • Dates
  • Page #
  • Header at top of the newspaper above the Daily logo
  • Grid system: does it look even on the bottom?
  • Lines between stories
  • Cutlines/Decks: Are they the correct font size? Whenever you are messing with the size of the image, you can accidentally change the size of the cutline since they are grouped together. 
  • Decks on regular stories are 3 lines and not adjusted more than .5 of a font size? (Decks on Dom are always different depending on the vision).
  • Are your pictures too dark? Too light? Too saturated?
  • Are your jumps connected properly?
  • Are your jumps at the bottom of the page like they should be?

Also, remember about the black and white pages versus color. You never want to put a color image on a black and white page and assume the printer will fix it – the printer won’t recognize it. Double check that you have all your pages in the right color. 

As for words per page, it’s SO hard to tell based on all the variables when planning. I would usually estimate 1,500-1,800 per page. This allows for a nice image up top, smaller ones at the bottom, pull quotes, etc. You can fit 2,000 on one page but it’s VERY challenging. Wouldn’t recommend. 

COLOR: The colors for the OU Daily are typically white, black, and crimson (C:0, M:100, Y:65, K:35). When working with CQ, it’s nice to put big titles or black backgrounds in registration because it comes out very rich, but ALWAYS use regular black when dealing with small text. If you use registration, it will look bolded and weird. 

ALWAYS use black when you’re designing the newspaper. Registration will corrupt the file, and it won’t print correctly. 

Don’t be afraid to spice things up for CQ or the print newspaper! Although our logo will almost always be black, white, or crimson, there’s SO much space to get color on the page. As long as it’s classy. We definitely don’t want anything looking like a kindergarten classroom threw up on a story. 

HIRING: Hire people who are motivated and have time for The Daily! Even if they aren’t 100% qualified, it’s the interest and passion that really counts. 

I learned InDesign by showing up to a few productions and watching YouTube tutorials. Anyone can do it if they try, so don’t be afraid to give someone a chance. 

Keep diversity in mind while hiring. The design desk is literally the window to the soul of the newsroom, and it only makes sense to have more perspectives when it comes to design. Often times, designer’s work frames the story vibe and helps immerse the readers, and we don’t want only white people to keep framing content for our huge, diverse audience. 

This is very susceptible to change, but when hiring, I wouldn’t hire more than a team of 4 (5 total including you) unless our newsroom gets bigger of course. That way, you have 2 designers who are getting paid and 2 who are not. 

SCHEDULING: When you hire your peeps, you’re going to need a copy of their class schedule/other commitments so you can work around it. It’s kind of self-explanatory, but here are some tips that helped me:

  • Fill in the gaps – Don’t feel like you need to be around to supervise at all times. Schedule your more seasoned designers when you have class if you need/want to. 
  • Put in intern designers during production so you can be there to help them the whole time.This also helps them learn the ropes.
  • During CQ, don’t be afraid to ask a designer to stay late or come in on a random day if they are available and willing. And even though CQ seemed like such an important publication where I needed to have my most experienced designers doing a majority of the work, try not to look at it that way. People will surprise you with their skills when there’s just a blank page in front of them. Plus, the more hands you have on deck, the more motivated and interested your designers will be. Everyone wants to see their work printed!!! And a magazine just feels so much more official and fancy. 
  • Change it up–If it’s okay with your designers or fits their schedule, don’t hesitate to change parts of schedules that aren’t working for you or for them. And you can change yours, too! You are the boss, so if you notice you aren’t being productive at 5 pm on a Monday, GO HOME. You can always come in another time or day. 

IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS: Every semester, you’re going to need an updated staff list, a cutline doc for production, and a print budget saved to the favorites tab on every design computer in the newsroom for easy access. 

You can even keep the same documents that are pinned to the bar and edit them every semester, or make new ones. It’s up to you. Just make sure you send out the staff list at the beginning of the semester so the editors from each desk can fill it out. It’s not your job to fill it out for other desks. Just make sure you have all your designers listed on it, and your job is done.

The cutline doc will have tabs at the bottom for each production date.

The print budget will mostly be handled by the EIC, news eds, sports ed and culture ed. You just need to have access to it on Sundays. 

ADVERTISING: You will be working with ad every week, so make sure to maintain good communications with them via text, call or Slack. 

You need them to drop in the maps for newspapers every Friday before noon (if not earlier bc you start planning before then). Make sure they stick to that and give you what you need. 

As far as special publications such as CQ, the advertising check-ups are crucial. Ask them to give you updates on how many pages you have, and get together with them with the white board to plan out where ads are going to go. You will get the maps a few days before the deadline, which is very stressful for you no doubt, but the check-ins will help it go smoothly. You’re usually good to go after the maps come in. Sometimes there will be last-minute switch-ups, but they’re supposed to have all the contracts signed by the deadline. They know that. And you know that. 

CQ: I saved this one for last because it is both my favorite and least favorite of the bunch. 

I don’t really know where to begin, so hang tight. 

To be completely honest, there is not really a style guide for Crimson Quarterly. As an art director, I changed its look and feel so many times that it doesn’t even look like the same publication to me. 

However, now is the time for a little bit of consistency. In my opinion, The Abril Fatface x Avenir Next-light/regular is a fantastic combo for the magazine. It’s light and modern, but it also looks kind of fancy and elevated in taste. But at the end of the day, it’s up to you!

In my opinion, CQ needs a logo rebrand. This is a great resource when you’re brainstorming for logos: https://www.tailorbrands.com/ You just type in a few details and it shows you some ideas to get inspo from. 

As far as tips and guides, here are a few things I stuck to throughout editions.

  • Content flow usually goes like this: Cover, a few ads, TOC, community art, an ad or two, first story (usually shorter), a few ads, second story (medium length) an ad or two, main story (meatiest), a few ads, fourth/fifth story (medium or short), a few ads, Q&A, an ad, Odds/Ends, back-cover ad. 
  • Use the same column width within the same stories. You can switch it up from story to story, but having a 3-column grid on one side and a 2-column on the other side during the same story is a little jarring for a reader. It doesn’t feel right.
  • Make sure the bottoms of the text columns are lined up. 
  • Body copy is usually around 10 pt. but it depends on the font. It looks small on screen, but it’s pretty perfect when you print it out. If the font is too big, it looks cheesy and unprofessional. For the summer 2020 edition, we used Utopia Std. – regular. 
  • Make bylines all same size and font from story to story
  • Make photo creds all same size and font from story to story
  • Make cutlines and decks all same font and size from story to story 
  • Use different fun fonts and colors for headlines of stories to give a little but of diversity from article to article and to give them a unique touch 
  • Design the odds and ends page last because it’s your wiggle room page. It can either be a half or full. 
  • Do page numbers last because it can always change. Place them in the same spot about an inch away from the edge of the page (I always do the bottom tucked in the pink frame on the InDesign doc)
  • Make sure you put the edition on the cover
  • Make sure you put the fine print on the contents page with an updated # of copies printed.
  • Pull quotes and graphs are key. We need more things like the US map on the Sex Education story in Spring 2020 CQ.
  • Work with photographers, ask to tag along to photoshoots if you have specific ideas about placement or anything particular.