Introduction to News Design

June 8, 2016

Free online course “Introduction to News Design”: Sign up now for new MOOC offered by Knight Center and SND

This post is also available in: English Spanish Portuguese (Brazil)

Good news design has the power to ensure that the stories into which journalists have invested hours of work catch the attention of their audiences. But knowing how to fill the blank pages can be a major challenge in the multimedia era where designers work with multiple platforms, from a variety of digital screens to the traditional print formats of magazines and newspapers.

To help you learn the fundamentals of news design, the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and the Society for News Design (SND) are offering the new five-week online course “Introduction to News Design” from June 27 to July 31.

Registration is open. Click here to sign up for this free online course.

Alberto Cairo


“We’re surrounded by news and information. Good design gives us cues to what is important, credible and worth our time. It’s a fascinating field of study and a meaningful career path,” said Sara Quinn, president of the Society for News Design and course instructor. “This course was created to help journalists understand how good design helps us to make sense of world around us.”

Quinn will be joined by David Kordalski, creative director for Crain’s Cleveland Business and former SND president, to teach this massive open online course (MOOC) through the Knight Center’s distance learning platform,

In addition to her role at the Society for News Design and as a professor, Quinn previously taught and led research at the Poynter Institute and previously spent 20 years in newspaper newsrooms. Likewise, Kordalski has worked in visual design in newsrooms in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana over a three-decade career in journalism.

The instructors will use video-lectures, reading materials, discussion forums and quizzes to teach participants about:

  • News design across platforms: print, digital and mobile
  • Basics of typography, color and grid for publication design
  • Developing a strategy for type, color and grid that supports a cohesive brand
  • How photographs and illustrations are perceived by audiences
  • Best practices for using varied story forms to engage readers

“We are delighted to partner with the prestigious Society for News Design to bring this innovative course to a global audience,” said professor Rosental Alves, founder and director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin. “Knowledge about news design is becoming more and more important these days as we move from traditional media to a multiplicity of screens and ways to present the news.”

Like previous MOOCs from the Knight Center, “Introduction to News Design” is divided into five weekly modules and will be fully asynchronous, meaning there are no live classes. Although each student can take the course at the times and days they like, each module will have a weekly deadline for submission of assignments and participation in discussion forums.

Anyone interested in principles of graphic design and visual storytelling is invited to enroll in the course.

The course is free, but participants who want to receive a certificate of completion must comply with course requirements and pay an online administrative fee of $30 using an international credit card. The certificate will be issued only to students who have actively participated in the course and completed the proposed tests and exercises. The certificates can be downloaded from the internet in PDF format after the Knight Center verifies that course requirements were met. No formal course credit of any kind is associated with this certificate.

This is the 21st MOOC offered by the Knight Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The Center was created in 2002 by Professor Rosental Calmon Alves, holder of the Knight Chair in Journalism and the UNESCO Chair in Communication at the School of Journalism of the University of Texas at Austin. The Center launched its pioneering and unique MOOC program for journalism courses in 2012 and has since reached about 70,000 people from 160 countries.

The Society for News Design (SND) is an international organization for news media professionals and visual communicators – specifically those who create print/web/mobile publications and products. SND members art direct, design, edit, report, illustrate, make photos and video, visualize data – and write code. Founded in 1979, SND is a U.S.-registered non-profit organization with around 1,500 members worldwide. Among other activities, SND hosts an annual Best of News Design competition open to newspapers and magazines from around the world, and a yearly conference (rotating through various cities) that brings in visual journalists from all over the world.