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Schindler, Johanna; Müller, Philipp (2018): Design follows politics? The visualization of political orientation in newspaper page layout. In: Visual Communication, Vol. 17, No. 2: pp. 141-161


This article explores how the political orientation of newspapers is reflected in their page layout. The authors compare the layouts of five German national quality newspapers exemplarily and exploratively in a combination of quantitative and qualitative analyses. Dimensions of comparison are typography, size, colouration, quantity and arrangement of elements. Results show systematic differences between the page layouts of left-wing and right-wing newspapers. These differences are reflected in the contrast of traditional and contemporary styles and also in the use of ideologically charged typography and colours. In addition, the size of headlines seems to be dependent on political extremity. Graphic design seems to work as an ideological symbol system with different layout styles quite consistently representing partisan positions. If media users could come to learn and recognize such visual patterns, layout could function as a visual frame for political messages.