Magazine Design



The Assignment

  • Design this in InDesign.
  • Opening article (facing pages)
  • Jump spread (facing pages)
  • Sidebar
  • Edit for appropriate imagery (creative commons)
  • Write original headlines, decks, quotes and captions.

Pick a story you like from any printed or online magazine. Use it to design a feature magazine four-page layout (two spreads) with words, pictures, display type and any graphic elements (pull-quotes, drop caps, etc). Your layout must include a sidebar story, whether or not the original article had one.

Use your story as body copy or you will be given dummy text files for the main story and for a sidebar; the layout must include the entire text of the sidebar. You decide what the sidebar story is about and write the headline; explain your sidebar in the  rationale.

You must write a new headline and deck. Write captions for any images you choose. You can use quotes from the original article for your pull-quotes. You must include page folios/numbers, unless you choose to bleed a picture off the page (do not print a folio on top of a full-bleed picture).

Do not use any of the images from the original article

Do not use tab indents; set your own indents. A useful rule of thumb is to indent the copy the same number of points as your body copy text size or leading.

Design your layout for a saddle stitched (stapled) or perfect-bound (glued) magazine; specify the binding type in your rationale and use the binding style when determining the size of your inside margins. Establish margins and column grids. Detail those in your rationale.


Determine first how to tell this story. How can you create a strong visual/verbal connection? Search first for visuals to use in your layout. Visuals can come from any resource including Internet resources, but make sure the quality is high enough to display well when printed. You can also scan images to use in your layout. Color will be an  important part of your layout.

You must give detailed source information for each visual used in your layout—this means giving the source, the Web address, iStockPhoto, Corbis or Getty Images ID number, the magazine or other source from which it was scanned. All images need to be a resolution of 150ppi or larger.

Decide what kind of grid you want to work with. Make sure you’re designing your grid and your layout from the strength of the pictures you’re working with. Make sure the pictures will work in the spaces in which you designate their use. (i.e., don’t designate a horizontal picture for a vertical picture space.) You are the art director here.

Choose your typefaces carefully. The headline should attract reader interest to the design. Make sure you choose a contrasting typeface for captions so they don’t blend in with the body text. Keep folios simple and small. Make sure to use photo credits. You can make up a byline if you choose. Your alternative (sidebar) copy should also use a contrast type.


  • Thursday 7/30; Magazine design sketches due at beginning of lab.

  • Friday 7/31; 5PM – Final Magazine design project due on server

  • Friday 7/31; 5PM –  Final  Due on blog (in addition to your wrap-up blog post)

Learning Outcomes

  • Develop a basic understanding of linear design.

  • Create a magazine opening spread and jump spread.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of good photo editing, and typography.


In the envelope

  1. Three thumbnails of different layouts each for the opening spread, and the
    jump spread.

  2. One rough each for the opening spread, and jump spread.

  3. Final InDesign layouts (four pages).

  4. The original magazine article.

  5. Your rationale.

  6. Self-evaluation.

On the server

  1. A properly named folder with your all your content, including a packaged InDesign sub-folder.

  2. A PDF of all your pages.

  3. Your rationale.

  4. Your self-evaluation.

On the Blog/Your Professor

  1. An images of each of your spreads.

  2. A link to your PDF file.

Rationale sections

  1. Design strategy: You MUST explain the identity of your magazine and its readership in detailed, specific terms; this corresponds with your message in the previous projects.

  2. Choices of typefaces

  3. Margins

  4. Visuals: specific detailed sources for each image used

  5. Extras: Alternative story form description

Grading criteria

  • Typography: choice of fonts; display font and design; body copy readability; sidebar headline & body copy; general use of type

  • Layout: Overall layout; use of grid; internal & external margins; appropriate use of photos credits, and other architecture

  • Design: Creativity; appropriateness for subject; storytelling ability of images; effective use of visuals,  display text and color

  • Picture use: Selection of individual images; how well images work together to tell a story; how well images augment and build on text

  • Spelling & grammar

Mandatory deductions

  • -1/3 letter grade for each low-resolution image (less than 150 pixels per inch at the size used) or image used from the original layout.

  • -1/3 three thumbnails of different layouts each for the opening spread, and the
    jump spread.

  • -1/3 one rough each for the opening spread, and jump spread.

  • -1/3 the original magazine article.


Image Searches Resources –  General

Image Searches Resources –  Specific