Edmund C. Arnold, 1913 - 2007The late Edmund C. Arnold was known as the Father of Modern Newspaper Design because of his seminal influence on print design both as a practitioner and as an educator.
As recalled in the obituary published by typographer.org,
[Arnold] helped design or redesign hundreds of newspapers including the Chicago Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, Newsday, the Boston Globe, the Louisville Courier-Journal, the National Observer, the Toronto Star, the Kansas City Star, El Vocero and El Mundo in San Juan. ...Among Arnold's fundamental contributions to print practice is the Gutenberg Diagram:
In 1960 he joined the School of Journalism at Syracuse University, where he headed the graphic arts department. ... In 1975 he moved to Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond VA, where again he was a full professor and headed the graphic arts department. He retired from VCU in 1983 but continued his work as a consultant to publications.
Arnold's principle, empirically verified by Colin Wheildon in the study (pdf) from which the above image was taken, is that
... the eyes fall naturally to the top left corner [of a page], which he calls the Primary Optical Area (POA). Then, the eyes move across and down the page, obeying reading gravity, and returning after each left-to-right sweep to an Axis of Orientation.I'm sure we've all had the experience of trying to read an article in a magazine that has gone overboard with typographical and layout busyness. My own view is that free-wheeling design is fine if you're happy to shed the readers who are frustrated by the visual complexity. For newspapers and documents, Arnold's sober approach is essential for usability.
Any design which forces the reader to work against reading gravity or fails to return him or her to a logical Axis of Orientation, tends to destroy reading rhythm ... (Wheildon, p. 8)
Edmund Arnold wrote 27 books, of which Arnold's Ancient Axioms: Typography for Publications Editors is especially frequently cited.