The elements of a typical print magazine

The elements of a typical print magazine

Our handy guide to the anatomy of a typical print magazine includes a breakdown of a magazine page layout and the elements it includes.

What are the common elements of every print magazine?

Magazines are a versatile and engaging medium, offering a rich tapestry of content across a wide variety of subjects. They cover interests from TV and film and celebrity gossip, politics and current affairs, to special interests such as sport, collectables, gaming and fashion. The corporate sector also is home to a vast library of print magazines that cover trade and industry news and updates.

Each of these magazine genres will have their own specific make up when it comes to the content and structure of their magazine, but they will all loosely follow the generic framework set out below.

1. Cover page

The cover page is the face of the magazine, a canvas that captures attention and conveys the essence of the issue. It is usually adorned with elements such as:

  • Masthead: The magazine's identity and branding, usually including the title and logo.
  • Cover lines: These are succinct, compelling headlines that act as teasers, luring readers into the publication.
  • Cover image: The primary visual element, often corresponding to the issue's central theme or a featured article or story. This can be photography, illustration or even text-based artwork.

2. Table of contents

The table of contents (TOC) serves as the roadmap for readers, guiding them to the relevant articles and content they seek. Key components include:

  • Page numbers: References to assist readers in finding specific articles.
  • Sections or departments: Segments that group related content together, providing a structured approach to the magazine's offerings.
  • Feature articles: Prominent, in-depth pieces, typically situated toward the front of the magazine.

3. Masthead

The masthead, often found on the magazine's initial pages, comprises vital data, such as the editorial team, contributors, and contact details. It's the magazine's official signature.

4. Advertisements or ads

Advertisements are the financial backbone of any magazine and can make up anywhere between a third and a quarter of the content. They are displayed in a variety of styles and placements, including:

  • Full-page ads: A dedicated, complete page for an advertiser's content, often among the most prominent placements.
  • Inside covers: Advertisements on the inside front and back, (or the back cover itself) are considered prime real estate for advertisers.
  • Advertorials: These are advertisements designed to mimic editorial content, offering a seamless blend of advertising and information.
  • Sponsored content: Articles or features produced by an advertiser but labeled as sponsored content, typically offering value to readers.
  • Wraps: These are advertisements that cover an entire section of the magazine, making a bold visual statement.
  • Directory listings: A categorised listing of businesses or services, often found in trade publications.
  • In-house adverts: Publishers will sometimes utilise space to promote their own library of publications or the benefits of taking out a subscription.

5. Sections or departments

Sections categorise content, making it easier for readers to locate their areas of interest within the magazine. Common section names could be as follows:

  • Health & wellness
  • Fashion & style
  • Home & garden
  • Travel & adventure
  • Food & cooking
  • Technology & gadgets
The structure of a typical print magazine

6. Feature articles

Feature articles are the magazine's crown jewels, offering the reader a deep dive into specific topics. These articles are typically granted their own dedicated pages or spreads, featuring interviews, profiles, or investigative journalism. They will typically be showcased on the cover of the magazine.

7. Editor's letter

The editor's letter provides readers with a personal touch, offering insight into the issue's content, themes, or noteworthy events. It often appears in the first few pages of a magazine.

8. Letters to the editor

A platform for readers to express their opinions and engage with the magazine's content, this section features letters or feedback from the audience. It often appears towards the back of a publication.

9. Special features

Magazines often include special features, such as interviews, case studies, or photo essays, depending on their focus and target audience.

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What is the layout of typical print magazine page?

As with differing genres of magazines, the pages within them will have their own unique style but will also follow a general structure. A familiar layout allows the reader to find relevant information quickly but designs can experiment with the way content is displayed to add visual impact and interest.

1. Headline

The headline is the page's eye-catching title, designed to instantly convey the main point or theme of the article. It's the reader's first glimpse into the content's essence.

2. Byline

The byline is a crucial element that credits the writer or author of the article, providing transparency and recognising the talent behind the content.

3. Subheadings or subheads

Subheadings serve to break down the article into manageable sections and emphasise key points. They play an essential role in guiding readers through the content.

4. Body text or body copy

The body text is where the heart of the article resides. It's where writers convey information, share stories, and express their opinions, creating the core of the magazine's content.

5. Pull quotes

Pull quotes are visually distinct excerpts from the article, designed to capture the reader's attention by highlighting significant or intriguing statements within the text.

The elements of a typical magazine page

6. Images and captions

Images in magazines come in various forms, including photographs, illustrations, infographics, and more. Captions provide context and information about these visual elements, enhancing the reader's understanding.

7. Sidebar

Sidebars supplement the main article by providing related information, facts, anecdotes, or quotes. They offer readers a deeper understanding of the topic being discussed.

8. Page number

Page numbers are the reader's navigational tools, enabling them to locate specific articles and content within the magazine.

9. Pullout or infographic

In some articles, you may find pullout sections or infographics, which visually represent data, ideas, or concepts, making complex topics more accessible to the reader.

10. Footer

The footer often contains essential publication details, such as copyright information, the issue date, and other pertinent information.

11. Continued on…

In the case of lengthy articles spanning multiple pages, the reader will find a "continued on page XX" note that helps them to locate the next part of the article.

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In summary

Understanding the intricate structure and terminology of magazines allows you to appreciate the art and craft behind these publications fully. Each element, from the cover page's allure to the intricacies of page design, plays a vital role in creating an engaging and informative reader experience. Whether you're flipping through a fashion magazine, a scientific journal, or a travel publication, knowing these key elements and their functions will make you a more discerning and informed reader.

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