Each day newspapers inform, enlighten, persuade and entertain. But they also manipulate, deceive, infuriate, and contradict each other.
Newspapers are visible everywhere - in stations and pubs, on trains, buses and airplanes. Across the country millions of copies of newspapers are delivered daily or sold through thousands of retail outlets. Each morning, newspaper shoppers buzz in and out of newsagents. There are newspaper vendors on street corners in big cities, selling papers to passers-by, some regular readers and some casual readers who may be attracted by what they see.
What potential readers see first is the front page which is the shop window of all newsagents. If they are attracted, or even repelled by what they see they may buy the newspaper. The design and presentation of the front page usually defines the place in the market the newspaper occupies. Every day the journalists who produce it begin with a blank page seldom knowing what the final appearance will be. But most readers have little idea of how a front page is put together and from what perspective.
This perspective whether it is historic, cultural, social, aesthetic, political, technological or market-led will relate directly to the choice, and size, of typography, the use of photographs or images and the specific design or layout on the day in question. This website will explain how some important front pages were produced.
Click the links on the right to browse through fifteen front pages from key moments in history.
The British Library gratefully acknowledges the John Frost Newspaper Archive for permission to reproduce these front pages.