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Structure of the Magazine

| October 14, 2013 | 0 Comments

Just like each page has its own structure so does the magazine. Todays magazines follow the same structure and although there are magazines that do not follow this approach we can say that this is a default one.

In the future posts we will cover some of the pages presented in this article in more deeper and thorough way.

Magazines consist of four parts. Cover pages, front of the book, feature well and back of the book.


Cover pages

The first cover is reserved, of course, for the cover page. Second one, marked in flatplan as C2 is reserved for advertising. This is the second most expensive ad page.
Third cover page, C3, is again reserved for advertisers and it is third most expensive ad page in the magazine. Last cover page, C4, is on the back of the magazine and it is most expensive ad page.

We will talk much more about cover pages in our forthcoming free ebook that we are preparing for you.


magazine structure - front of the book

Copyright © Future INC US; Two page TOC at Mac Life

Front of the book

This part of the magazine consists of several key pages.

Table of contents – this is always the first page of the magazine. Table of contents can be laid out on one page, two page spread, or on two pages intersected with advertising. Ad pages are almost always on the right.
Advertisers prefer the right hand side of the magazine because is is more visible than the left hand pages.
Table of contents can be designed with or without the images but is is important to distinct the TOC elements so that the reader can understand what is page number, what is the headline of the topic and what is a short description of the topic if you want to include it. Good typographic choice and skill is crucial here.

Impressum – This is the part of the magazine that is usually placed in the front of the book, although some magazines place it at the back of the magazine.
Impressum or masthead is the list of all people that work in the magazine. From the editorial staff to marketing and ad sales people to publishers and key people in the publishing house that is producing the magazine.
The design of this page is pretty straightforward and clean. Magazine masthead (logo) is usually placed at the top of this page.

magazine structure - front of the book

Copyright © Conde Nast; Lucky magazine, editor’s letter

Editor’s Letter – This is first editorial page in the magazine. It is welcoming letter from the editor-in-chief in which he or she explains the content of the issue. It depends on the style of the publication and the editor’s journalism voice but it basically covers the main topics in the issue but also it can contain some thoughts about the topics this magazine covers in general. For example if the magazine in hand is a political weekly than the editor’s letter can cover some political events that happened just before the magazine’s issue date.

Other key pages in front of the book – Generally every magazine wants to start with short one page topics. Depending on the topic that magazine covers, these pages can contain news sections, reviews, topics about society, culture, arts, events and so on. Short one page interviews, columns and opinions can be placed here also.

These pages have a uniform, standardized design that is changed just slightly from issue to issue. Everything is set in its place and follows rigid grid structure.

In my opinion these pages look better when they are intersected with ad pages. This approach gives nice rhythm and flow because the next part of the magazine, the feature well, is filled with pages full of articles and there is rarely any advertising there.

Readers letters and opinions are almost always placed at the front of the book. Just after editor’s letter. But again, this is not a rule set in stone.

magazine structure - section start pages

Copyright © Condé Nast; Beautiful section start pages from Cookie magazine

Another page that is used a lot lately is so called “section start” page. This is the page that generally opens a certain section of the magazine (news section, beauty section, listings…). It can be used both in front and in the back of the book.


magazine structure - feature well

Copyright © Notion magazine; Four page feature.

Feature well

This is the largest part of the magazine. It contains main features. These articles can be short ones, just a few pages long, or longer ones, spanning for more than ten pages.
When organizing  features in the flatplan it is better to intersect short ones with long ones. For example, 10 page article can be followed by 4 page article instead another 10 page article. This gives better flow, or rhythm to the magazine.
Design related these are the articles in which designers have the biggest freedom, although certain style of the publication should be followed.

magazine structure - feature well

Copyright © Sussex Publishers, LLC; Psychology Today, six page feature.

It is important to state that the each feature should be visibly different than the other one because the reader may get confused if he doesn’t know where one feature ends and another starts.

Choice of colors plays a big role here. You don’t want to have two features one by the other designed with, for example, red as a dominant color. This is why you should print out your pages and tape them on the wall in order they are marked in the flatplan. In this way you will clearly see what needs to be changed.

Of course there are magazines that do not follow this approach. There are magazines that are very uniform in their layout. Their features differ very slightly, if at all.

In feature well you won’t see that many ads.


magazine structure - back of the book

Copyright © Link magazine; Back of the book with weather info, horoscope and other short text blocks

Back of the book

This part of the magazine contains the remaining content from the front of the book, shorter articles, news, listings, remaining columns, horoscope and so on.
Again just like the front of the book, this part of the magazine follows the rigid structure and design is changed just slightly from issue to issue.

magazine structure - back of the book

Copyright © New Consumer magazine; Back of the book column

Although the back of the book is considered less important than the front, especially from the advertisers point of view, editors should not place only less interesting stuff here. This part should also be filled with good useful information.
Generally, advertising is cheaper in this part of the magazine and here you can find so called “classified” ads. Smaller ads, 1/4 of a page up to 1/16 of a page, are grouped together and placed on these pages.
Depending on the nature of the magazine, last page is reserved for columnist, short essay, short interview or some similar laid back content.

magazine structure - back of the book

Copyright © Conde Nast; W magazine, back of the book.


This is a general view of the magazine structure. You will see many magazines that stray away from this approach but this kind of structure is the default one and should be used as such. A reference point which you can lately alter to your publication’s needs.

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