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Magazine Masthead Creation

| June 7, 2013 | 9 Comments

Magazine Logotype Masthead

Magazines and newspapers are basically consumer goods, and, like any consumer goods they are brands and, like any other brand they got to have a logo. A magazine masthead. Masthead’s role is to be recognizable. In the sea of magazines on the newsstands you want your logo to pop up.

To be instantly recognizable. This is not an easy thing to do. That’s why logo is the most important element on the cover page.

When designing a logo several things should be your concern. The logo should capture the publications character, attitude, it should fit the intended readership, it should be versatile too, so that it can be used in other occasions, like marketing materials.

When working on a logo you should try tenths or even a hundred variations. When you find several that you like, you should work on its variations. First, and obvious thing is to choose the proper typography. Is your publication modern one, is it more traditional, is it urban or more conservative?


Magazine Logotype Masthead

© Pentagram – When working on a logo you should try numerous variations.


Is the name of the publication long one or a short one? If it’s a short one maybe you can make the logo stand in the top left corner. If it’s longer one and if it has two words maybe they can be positioned one on top of each other and placed in the top left corner.

If you ask yourself, why top left corner, it is because when magazines are stacked on the shelves on the newsstand top left position is always visible, no matter how densely stacked the magazines are on the shelves. If the name of the magazine is longer maybe you can make it in bolder type for more impact.

It is always better to use different fonts for the logo than the ones you use for the cover headlines. Although the logo is not read it should be recognizable, and that’s why it should be different in type from the rest of the cover.

As you can see, the options are endless.

When you finally decide on several versions try it out on the page to see how it interacts with the images and general design of the cover. Sometimes you will see that a top left position does not work well, maybe the top centered position would be better. Once I had lots of problems with the logo which I did for one customer magazine.




The client did not want the logo to be obscured by overlapping images. Since on each cover there was a person, the person’s head was always positioned underneath the logo. This resulted in an awkward situation since the logo was always covering some parts of the head. It looked bad. Then I persuaded my client to change the position of the logo which was centered, and then we positioned it on the top left part of the page. Now when the logo was over the image it looked better.

Today you can see the logotypes in almost all forms and shapes. Some indie magazines change the place of their logo from issue to issue. Usually these kinds of magazines do not sell on the newsstands. They are distributed through other channels so they have much bigger freedom when designing cover pages.

Some magazines change their logo from issue to issue. Most known example is David Carson’s magazine Raygun. The design of the cover was different in each issue so it became their trademark. He definitely believed in the saying that “rules are meant to be broken”, but the rules are there to aid you in building the identity and your magazine’s identity should be your number one concern.

You can make your logo in handwritten form, which will give your publication personality and emotion. Although it will not give it timelessness. That’s why you should go with more traditional logos cause the modern and fashionable ones tend to last shorter.

When deciding which way to go, always have your magazine’s content and style in mind. Let that be your guide because if the logo is fitting the style of the magazine, then you are on the right track to make it recognizable and memorable.

Photo credit: nickboos / / CC BY-ND

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Category: Design

Comments (9)

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  1. lindy abbott says:

    I really enjoyed this. The pictures really help. I can learn so much from your website.

    • Nikola says:

      Hi Lindy, I am glad you are learning new things from us.
      I hope it will help you in your goals.

  2. susan says:

    I find this very confusing. I thought this publication name/logo was referred to as a nameplate and inside credits (panel listing editors, publisher, designer, etc.) was the masthead. It would be great to get to clear this up.

    • Nikola says:

      Well… I must say you are correct. From the American point of view. Over here in Europe and UK masthead is a publication’s logo. I think we will have to explain it in the post. Maybe even change the headline since I am sure it is confusing.

      Even Wikipedia is referring to this problem: “In American usage, a publication’s masthead is a printed list, published in a fixed position in each edition, of its owners, departments, officers, and address details, which in British English usage is known as an imprint. In the UK and many other Commonwealth nations, “the masthead” is a publication’s designed title as it appears on the front page; what in American English is known as the nameplate.”

  3. Amarh Jane says:

    Any other function of the masthead apart from its recognition?

  4. Anita says:

    Is the masthead always placed at the top left?
    can it be placed elsewhere? like the example at the bottom of the magazine cover

    • Nikola says:

      It depends on the nature of the magazine. Most news stand sold magazine have mastheads at the top of the cover page for better visibility. But if the magazine does not rely on news stand sales, masthead can be everywhere. Bottom of the magazine may not be the best place, but if it works, why not.

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