Working on the recent edition of Edit magazine for the University of Edinburgh has got us thinking about magazine design more generally. Just how do you read a magazine? Are you a deeply committed magazine fanatic who likes to read them from cover to cover? Or are you a casual reader who prefers to flick through; dipping in and out of articles that catch your eye?

When starting on a magazine design we make sure we’re thinking about both types of reader, as well as everyone else in between. Most people don’t really think about their magazines of choice – they just read and enjoy, taking the ease of reading for granted. In fact every detail has (or at least should have) been agonized over to ensure the hierarchy of information is correct, as well as using page furniture to assist the reader’s journey through the  magazine.

The cover is our starting point – ensuring the masthead and look and feel appeal to the audience as well as having impact on a news-stand. Clever use of cover furniture in the magazine design makes sure the reader can find what they’re looking for whether it’s the issue number, release date, cover lines, descriptor and any small snippets to entice the reader in to find out more.

Once inside, we capture and keep readers’ attention with lots of snippets of information such as pull quotes, column quotes, information boxes and web links. Section heads and mini feature headings frame the spreads and give guidance to the reader. By using these design features, readers can commit to reading an article as much or as little as they wish, aided by the page furniture. Of course, it’s also important to consider how magazines will work in a digital format – when read on an iPad, laptop or Kindle.