The British trend toward smaller newspapers is unlikely to be replicated in North America, according to a newspaper design commentator whose blog is fast becoming a must-read for chief sub-editors.

The Guardian downsized to a Berliner format in September following the 'tabloidisation' of both The Times and The Independent, while the Wall Street Journal last month went tabloid in Europe and Asia, marking a growing move to radical, market-focused redesigns.

But Mark Friesen, whose posts inside information on layout and design, said those across the Atlantic would not be following suit.

"I think the trend toward going smaller is interesting, but I'm not convinced it's going to sweep the States anytime soon like it has in Europe," he told "Research shows people prefer the smaller size in theory, but I don't know that that translates into wanting their newspaper to be that size.

"Also, because advertising plays a bigger role in American newspapers than European ones, that's a bigger barrier to downsizing. That said, it wouldn't surprise me to see broadsheets producing more tabloid products."

The UK's "quality" newspaper sector was shaken up in 2003 when, inspired by the range of smaller, handier Euopean counterparts, The Independent went tabloid.

Recent months have seen a wave of redesigns from the likes of Le Figaro, The Baltimore Sun and The Guardian, while The New York Times and The Daily Telegraph are considering shrinkages and a series of other titles are adopting livelier, more visual and more colourful tones.

"It does seem there's been a lot of redesigning going on lately," added Mr Friesen, a Society for News Design member and designer at Portland's The Oregonian. "I think, with stagnant advertising, flat circulation and increased competition for people's attention, editors are realising they need to adapt quicker, take more risks and explore new ways of presenting information.

"I think the internet does influence the design we see today. But it's more than that. From the web to magazines to product design, people are exposed to a lot more visual sophistication these days."

Mr Friesen's site is just one of a growing number now analysing the business of newspaper design, including and Layout editors even use the web to show off by uploading their favourite designs to

He said the gathering pace of redesigns had pushed NewsDesigner's traffic to around 1,500 visitors each day, rising to 85,000 monthly hits for posts rounding up newspapers' coverage of major international events.

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