How to Read the Front Page of The New York Times

The front page of any newspaper is designed to give the reader a glimpse of the top stories making the headlines on a particular day. Front pages range from the ultra-simple New York Post and New York Daily News, often consisting of only one or two large photographs accompanied by captions, to the incredibly complex New York Times and Washington Post. Unlike the simple layout of the Post, the Times gives the reader an in-depth look at the most important news of the day; it can take up to 30 minutes to read the entire front page with its accompanying carry-over articles. With such an important and complex page, it's important to be able to make sense of it. The average copy of the Times has 23 components. Listed from top to bottom, left to right (as much as possible), they are:

  1. Ear: The ear is the box right next to the logo. It contains The New York Times' slogan: "All the news that's fit to print."
  2. Nameplate: The nameplate, or logo of the Times. The design for it was hand-drawn and is copyrighted.
  3. Weather Ear: This insert located on the top right-hand side of the paper tells the reader which edition he/she is reading: It also tells you what today's weather forecast is for your region.
  4. Folio: The folio is the line located right under the nameplate. It includes, from left to right, the issue and volume numbers, copyright line, date, and price.
  5. Volume Number and Issue Number: The volume number tells the reader the number of years the Times has been in publication (it was founded September 18, 1851) and is depicted using Roman numerals. The Arabic numerals to the right indicate the issue number, the number of issues the Times has released since its founding. The periods between the volume and issue numbers indicate when your edition was published. An average issue of the Times ranges from four periods, the earliest edition, to one, the latest. Dashes are used if further additions are printed on a particular day.
  6. Copyright Line: Located next to the volume and issue numbers, the copyright line gives notice that the Times has the right to reproduce its own material and that the articles printed by the Times are protected by US copyright laws.
  7. Boxed Article: The boxed article, located immediately under the volume and issue numbers, is framed on all sides by black lines. Boxed articles usually deal with continuing trends or insights, though they are not usually news analyses articles.
  8. Kicker: A kicker is the heading of a caption.
  9. Caption/Cutline: A caption describes a photograph (I hope that everyone knows what a photograph is and that I don't need to explain it). The latter name comes from the days when the photos in a newspaper were woodcuts.
  10. Credit Line: Located beneath pictures, the credit line gives recognition to the individual or news agency that supplied a particular photo.
  11. Headline: The headline, located above an article, gives a brief summary of an article's content.
  12. "A" Head: This special one-column headline is only used on the front page. It sits atop the lead article, drawing attention to it by its unique typeface.
  13. Bank/Deck: This is a subordinate headline, usually clarifying the main headline. It is found on many articles and almost always on the lead article.
  14. Lead Article: This article, always located on the top-right corner of the front page, is the "premier" article for the day.
  15. Byline: Located below the headline and above the article proper, the byline gives the author of the article.
  16. Dateline: The dateline relates the place the reporting was done in and the day the report was written. If an article appears without a dateline, it either occurred in New York or the place it was written in has no bearing on the story.
  17. Body Type: The body type is the actual text of the article. The New York Times uses "Imperial" typeface for its body type.
  18. Jump Line: Everyone's favorite part of the front page, the jump line indicates what page an article continues on, necessitating an annoying page turn to finish an article.
  19. Inside Box: The inside box is a section of the front page devoted to "teasers."
  20. Reefer: A reefer (not the drug), is a teaser located in the inside box. It consists of one or two sentences describing an important or interesting article that can be found inside the issue.
  21. Index: The index provides a table of contents for the various sections of the Times. Using the index, you can find the important sections and features in a particular issue.
  22. Bar Code: The bar code located on the bottom of the front page is used by the Times staff to verify single-copy sales information.
  23. Reefer Ad: The reefer ad is a brief advertisement at the bottom of a column.


  • New York Times Newspaper 2001 Fact Book