Magazine Grids

In our second lesson on magazine design we looked at the layouts of different magazines. Chris brought in a selection of graphic design magazines. They featured a contents on the front cover and had clean, simple designs that allowed for high quality images surrounded by breathable white space. The covers were quite simple and featured some sort of design or illustration. We then looked at an example of a higher end fashion magazine that included a lot of advertisements (when we flicked through the magazine the contents page wasn’t for around eight pages!) and more images than written articles. The layout of the cover of the magazine was quite typical and can be seen time and time again, with a well-known figure in the centre standing in front of the title, surround by lots of subheadings that show the contents of the magazine. We finally looked at a magazine that comes free with a newspaper. It had a similar layout to the fashion magazine but seemed slightly less elegant – we looked for white space in this magazine, but there wasn’t any. I suppose this is because when a magazine layout is done right, the reader doesn’t pay much attention to it anyway as they’re reading it for its contents, but the layout it obviously important to a reader of a graphic design magazine and so this allows them to break away from the usual mold a little more.

We learnt that magazines are designed using a grid, there is often one grid used throughout a magazine but it can be split and used in different ways. When describing the layout of a magazine, it works per page, for example a grid may allow for up to nine columns, but if a page utilises the grid so that is split into three columns, then you describe it as having three columns (I hope that makes sense!). Each magazine will have their own style, but most designs will allow for and include similar features such as folios (page numbers) and headers. I learnt that the name of the magazine is included on every page so that if a page is torn out, you can still see where it has come from. Below I have scanned a handout we were given that includes some very useful terminology, most of which I wasn’t aware of before!:

For our homework, we had to look at the grids in magazines. Sorry the scans aren’t particularly very good, it proved quite difficult to get a decent scan from a bulky magazine on a scanner that isn’t too great on the first place! But I think they do the job – hopefully! As you can probably see, the magazines all have very similar grids, they all include space for columns of text, headlines, headers and folios, but have still been used in a range of different ways to create some distiction between them. This exercise meant looking at the magazines purely for their designs rather than their content, which I found quite interesting as unless the design really doesn’t work, this isn’t something I really notice. The first page is from a Take a Break magazine, the design isn’t really anything special or high class, but it really doesn’t need to be – readers pick up these magazines just for the stories, and for this purpose, though the designs aren’t particularly very nice, they work just fine. This page includes four columns for text, which could look quite daunting, but as I said, unlike fashion magazines for example, these magazines are there for the stories and so this is what readers will expect to see.


The page below is from Glamour magazine, a magazine aimed at female lifestyle and fashion. On first glance, this doesn’t actually look like a fashion magazine; the overall look is quite masculine, but this is because this story from the Report section was one of the only articles I could actually find! The rest of the magazine consists of little snippets of text and lots of pictures and advertisements. On this page you can see how a grid can be used in different ways. It includes a grid of three columns. In the top half, only two of these have been used for blocks of text and in the bottom half all three have been used as a way to present small pieces of information from three different people.


This page is from Instyle magazine, another female fashion magazine, like above, yet this is slightly more obvious from this one’s design particularly from the more feminine font and softer layout – the way the text flows around the slanted image makes it look less harsh and masculine. This also seems to include more white space. This shows how a very similar grid can still produce two quite different styles.


This is an article from You magazine, a magazine that comes free with a newspaper, yet the look still holds quite an elegant design. The grid here has been used to hold different points in the article. The grid for the whole magazine likely includes four columns but here only three have been used – two slimmer columns on the outside of one quite wide column, this is probably as a way of creating focus on the image. The space for the headline here is quite large compared to the other magazines here.


The magazine below is from Boots, it features quite a big headline and three columns.And illustration is include that the first and second column wrap around and the third column allows space for the magazine to promote their products.



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