Media Management Center      Kellogg School of Management      Medill

Understanding and Improving "Easy to Read" Content
Making a newspaper "easy to read" is the single highest potential area for growing readership. If newspapers become more "relaxing to read" and "easy to find what I'm looking for" (the two elements that make up "easy to read") people spend more time reading the newspaper, read more completely, on more days of the week.

But what's behind easy to read? Unexpectedly, making a newspaper easier to read does not center around design or placement of articles. In fact, when we tested design components such as use of photographs, graphics, color, headers at the top of stories, indexing, placement, jumps and anchoring - none of them were related statistically to ease of reading. What does make a newspaper easier to read are decisions editors and reporters make when they assign and report stories:

  • Including more "go and do" information in stories
    "Go and do" information is the nitty-gritty information that newspapers excel in covering: phone numbers, times, dates, addresses, Web sites, contact names. It's all the information readers need to take action on a story, greatly increasing the usefulness of a story. Surprisingly, only 10 percent of all newspaper stories include go and do information.

  • Offering more health, home, food, fashion, and travel coverage
    Not only are these types of stories the No. 2 potential area for growing readership, they also make readers feel that the paper is easy to read. For more information on how to increase satisfaction in these areas, go to our Satisfaction Drivers in Key Content Areas page.

  • Writing more stories in a feature style rather than an inverted pyramid style
    Writing style proved to be an important way of increasing satisfaction with specific content areas but also for improving overall brand perception. Papers that incorporate a narrative writing style in their coverage of a wide variety of topics - not just traditional features content - are seen as easier to read. See our The Value of Feature-style Writing page for more on this.

  • Promoting content more effectively in the newspaper
    More effective in-paper content promotion guides readers to stories of interest and alerts them to new types of content they may not have seen before. It's easy to understand why papers that promote more effectively would be seen as "easier to find what I'm looking for." Our Content Promotion Overview Page offers a variety of resources that can help you promote content better .

Additional Information


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