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Inside the magazine using grid-layout

Well, if you're a new publisher, you're usually operating on such a short deadline, so it can be hard to believe you can expect anything deeply thought out! It takes seasoned designers longer than that to do what you are asked for! But let's see how we can help, seeing as we're seasoned designers.

About the cover: In a newsstand magazine, the cover is intended to draw the eye — in a sea of other covers, all with the same intent.

One tool for this is color. Are most of the covers bright? Dark? Light? Do something else. Maybe a stark white cover (or a light color).

Then the logo/nameplate should stand out and be enduringly recognizable. The font can have nothing to do with the inside type — the nameplate stands alone. Since you get to make up a name for this assignment, choose one whose letters fit well and give you an opportunity to customize them in some way — link two of them, add a swash to the bottom of some letter or the top of the first, add outlines or otherwise strengthen them to support the rest of the cover art and type. Or don’t do any of those things — choose a profoundly perfect font and let it stand alone. The objective is to attract the reader’s attention.

Time Magazine has such a recognizable logo that it often places cover images over part of it — we all still know it at once. Of course this happened over time, but it was like that back when it first came out.

Beyond that, the cheap out for an important-looking cover is to feature a movie or sports star.

About using a grid: You do not need anything too complex — the basic magazine grid is fairly simple and logical.

Look at a bunch of differerent mags and see what they have in common. They will have ads. Although there are many different styles in publishing, standardization in ad sizes, paper, newsracks, and other forces ensure very similar layouts and page structure. Many magazines will have a 3- or 6-column layout: you will discover that ads will be designed to fill two, three, or four of these columns, and you can infer the basic column grid from that.

Allow one pica for column gutters. If you want to show off, also make a horizontal grid, with square boxes (the width of a text column), making a checkerboard. Text and other elements will then be sized to fit those spaces. (Many magazines today ignore the horizontal grid — it encourages fairly static layouts. But your teacher may expect you to at least think about it.)

Text may appear in any or all of the columns, usually one (or 2 narrow) column wide, but some feature areas may use more columns (and larger type). Some magazine pages may have pages full of plain text (boring!). If you decide to show such a page, be sure to introduce an illustration or two (different types, sizes), callouts (bits of type taken from the story and blown up (larger, maybe different type), a sidebar that spans multiple columns (perhaps with a light tint behind the text, which can be different from the text type — a sans-serif, maybe), or other interruptions to the text.

But I would suggest that you show three pages: a right-hand page introducing a new article (no ads, but dramatic headline and subhead, illustration, perhaps larger type across two or three columns to begin the story), followed by a two-page spread continuing that article. Use pictures, white space, text callouts, and other elements as well as ads to hint at the underlying grid and add openness to the text pages.

For the ads on the spread, include one full-height half or third of a page ad on one page, and a half-height one-column ad along with smaller ones on the other page.

Magazine text is normally small (8-1/2 or 9 point), and it should be somewhat narrow to fit the columns. If you have access to Adobe fonts, Utopia is very good for this. It works pretty well at display sizes too, or you can use a completely different headline type: a sans is frequently used for this.

Good luck on your magazine publishing quest... feel free to ask us more questions, and do let us know if we can help you out!

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