Anatomy of a Periodical

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Anatomy of a Periodical

    1. Any reading material-  in technical use-  periodic means “at regular or predictable intervals, such as, magazines, newspapers literary journals, newsletters etc.  Not exclusive to print material, periodicals could now include blogs or digital e-publications.
    1. – general interest or hobby specialty can vary in amount of ads and amount of written story content
    2. – some hobby magazines are like self-help or how-to publications.  ie. model airplane
    1. -more and more quality reading material is available in digital format either for free ( with advertising ) or by a pay wall model
  4. DESIGN TIPS and PARTS of a MAGAZINE: sticky notes
  • Find example of strong TYPE
  • Find an example of sans-serif font
  • Find an example of pull-quote
  • Find example of strong IMAGE
  • Find example of strong 3 GRID layout
  • Find example of SIDEBAR
  • Find example of 2 fancy FOLIO
  • Find example of DROPSHADOW text of image
  • Find and example of 2 page spread

    1. TASK:  –Consumer Reports –  What is the best sedan car under $10,000? Answer Below….  OR –Vancouver Sun – Who recently died in a Kelowna motel room?  Answer Below…
  3. PROJECT: plan, create and build a mockup magazine.


1. Your cover should be a key selling point.

OK, so internal communications don’t actually get sold, but your cover should demonstrate what the magazine has to offer. Arresting and relevant imagery with great headlines and clear navigation can grab the reader’s attention and make sure your publication gets read. When you think you’ve finished the job, always take a step back, look at the cover and ask yourself if you would pick it up.

2. Create a natural pace and rhythm.

It’s a good idea to break the reader in with a few shorter stories up front. A simple news section can bridge the gap between your cover and major features and help the reader familiarise themselves with the magazine’s format and tone of voice. Presenting a weighty feature too early can be daunting and off-putting.

3. Stay on the grid.

The grid is the architecture of your magazine, the framework that keeps every page element in its place. It keeps columns consistent and anchors photographs, panels and boxes so they don’t float around. If you want something that offers more than just three basic columns, go for a much higher number such as 12. It might seem like structural madness at first, but, once you get used to it, you’ll see that it can divide down nicely into two, three, four and six.

4. Get the hierarchy right.

When dealing with spreads that have multiple stories or when grouping stories on a theme, take the time to look at the overall hierarchy. Make sure a lead item is given prominence. It’s easy to get this wrong and a lesser story can end up looking like the most attractive element. Use larger headlines, prime positioning and strong imagery to achieve a sense of importance.

5. The art of type.

For centuries, typesetters and letter-writers have concerned themselves with the size, shape and forms of characters. They mulled on the leading, kerning and tracking of each word on the page to ensure that all was legible and print-ready. In a way, the computer age has meant that this has become a lost skill. Whether headlines are the centrepiece of a spread or top smaller news items, take the time to concentrate on the letter spacing. Avoiding legibility issues, character clashes and unsightly gaps will make things easier on the reader’s eye and help with overall accessibility.

6. Don’t be afraid of white space.

When it comes to internal publications, which can be copy-heavy, just thinking about leaving blank space on the page can ring client alarm bells. Equally, stuffing as much as you can onto each and every page may leave the reader overwhelmed. Experiment with white space in your new multi-column layout. Or on larger features, try starting your article just above the halfway point of the page. You’ll be surprised how much a little bit of white space helps to soften the reader’s eye into the layout.

7. Be sensible with your colours.

Employee publications often have their colour palettes dictated by the branding of the parent company, but that doesn’t mean you should saturate every page with the same vivid purple as the company’s logo. Think about colour from the reader’s point of view. Avoid assaulting their senses. Instead, use your colour scheme to create warm, friendly and appealing environments, both for your readers and your content. A spread that’s so bright and lurid that it actually hurts the eyes simply won’t get read.

8. Avoid the grey mountains.

Any reader faced with two pages of solid text will see something of a mountain to climb. Look for ways to give them a few footholds by breaking up the text with interesting box-outs, panels or tables. The more you can break the information down into manageable pieces, the more likely it is to get read. Crossheads and pull-quotes will not only break up the grey, but can make the article more appealing and help the mountain seem worth scaling.

9. Every picture tells a story.

But I’ll have to give you the abridged version. Best practice for photography and illustration and getting the most from your budget warrants a top ten list of its own. To be brief: use images that help convey the content and attract the reader. Imagery should always be relevant and of good enough quality to at least look professional. If you think a photograph looks bad, consider not using it. Your editor wouldn’t include a bad article just because they had it on file, would they?

10. Achieve a healthy balance.

So you’ve got all your pages designed and laid out according to your flatplan. Now take a look at the whole magazine. Does it flow properly? As you go through, do you get a sense of rhythm and pace? Does the article on page 5 sit too heavily alongside the lighter piece on page 4? Have you achieved variation, or does every page and image box look the same? Does one page feel crammed and claustrophobic while another seems empty and spread out? If anything feels like that to you, it will to your readers too. Take the time to address these issues and your end product will benefit.


Typography is the art of arranging type and type design. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, line spacing, and the adjustment of spaces between groups of letters (tracking) and between pairs of letters (kerning). Typography comes from the Greek words typos, which means “mark, figure” and grapho, which means “I write.” It is basically the discipline of shaping written information; thus it can be applied to anything which has to do with text, including web design. Authors write the text, designers and typographers manage the typography, and users read through it.


Filed under Helpful Material, LIBGuides, Periodicals

2 responses to “Anatomy of a Periodical

  1. Al Smith: Ms. Taylor Block 3. What is the best sedan car under $10,000? Answer: Merecedes Benz M series

  2. Reblogged this on My PIDP Corner and commented:
    Great set of links!!

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