10+ Magazine Cover Templates
From National Geographic’s 1985 cover of an Afghan girl refugee with the most piercing, haunting eyes, to LIFE‘s 1969 special edition of Apollo 11’s mission, giving a comprehensive story of man’s first landing on the moon, to People’s eerie shot of the World Trade Center after 9/11, making it the bestselling issue in the magazine’s history, the most iconic magazine covers breathed life into events that rocked history and took part in shaping not only opinion but also changes in American culture.
Elements of a Good Magazine Cover
Magazine covers can make or break magazine sales since they’re all about first impressions. The cover of a magazine makes up the ideas which also creates a common identity for artists and writers responsible for producing a unique variety of articles, stories, style and materials within each release. To create an impact with your magazine cover, remember these main elements:
- Masthead. If you have a magazine subscription, you may have noticed the name of the publication displayed across the top. This is the title’s visual branding which is also what makes people identify it from the get-go and often created in a typeface unique to the magazine company so that it’s easily recognizable.
- Dateline. What follows after the brand name or masthead is often relaying that this is the magazine’s latest issue. Magazine companies want to make sure their readers are updated and that the copies found on the stands are the current ones, so the cover layout has to have the month and year of publication since magazines often hit the stands a month prior to the actual cover date. One of the most common ways in doing this is changing colors every month, although the image usually makes the issue’s timeliness obvious, except perhaps for women’s magazines.
- Main Image. The most iconic magazine covers made an impact mainly because of the images they used. You can never underestimate the power of photographs, especially in influencing public sentiment and opinion. Before Apollo 11’s mission, people weren’t really sold on the idea of man landing on the moon. Even following it on the radio and television news still didn’t make it seem quite real until LIFE’s special “To The Moon and Back” edition happened. It wasn’t sheer luck that made that cover and the edition itself arguably the most poetic account of the lunar landing. It was hard work and a great deal of phenomenal photography.
- Cover Lines. You can consider this as the brand’s statement or sometimes, editorial philosophy. To be more specific, this is a short, catchy description of the magazine’s key marketing point. Creative magazines can use multiple cover lines around the image but the main one should have the largest text, taking up about a quarter of the cover area.
10 Magazine Cover Templates
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Steps to Make a Good Magazine Cover
In an age where digital media is taking over print and “traditional” journalism, even the most popular and most read magazine titles are trying to live up to their decades-old brand and face the challenge of selling as well as maintaining and increasing circulation. In designing a magazine cover before they hit the stands, an artist or designer needs to:
- Nail The Concept. The goal is to make people pick up your magazine from the newsstand. What exactly makes it different from plenty others of the same nature? What sort of value can you add? One great way of translating your concept into something visual is knowing who your market is. If you have a B-to-B market, you’re not going to have the same objectives with a consumer type of audience. Think of it as a member privilege vs. newsstand profit or written request vs. actual subscriptions.
- Create A Consistent Strategy. A cover is more than a title and a glossy piece of paper. It’s your voice, the voice of the readers you represent. It’s your brand identity, front, and center. Therefore, you need to come up with a design strategy that would give you an opportunity to be visually consistent. For decades, Time magazine’s covers have always depicted a single person, incorporating “People of the Year” issues in recent years with the likes of Steve Jobs and Barack Obama. Time is also known for its signature red border which the magazine introduced in 1927 and only changed it five times since.
- Guide Readers Through Composition. You may have a great cover photo ready, but if you don’t know how to take advantage of it in the overall composition, chances are you would still be trumped by the competition. A layout is your chance through contrast, scaling, and text or image hierarchy in guiding your audience where they need to go. For example, Esquire magazine covers create familiarity among its readers through its creative use of typography and putting a full-body image of notable people on the center.
- Take Risks. You’re in the wrong industry or profession if you don’t know how to take risks. Without risks, creativity is nothing.
Simple Tips for an Excellent Magazine Cover
It comes as no surprise that fashion magazine giants like ELLE would probably outlive the rest of us and while magazines remain relevant even after the advent of the internet and all things related to it, in the consumer sector, magazines have generally failed to sell. With a demanding industry and an oversaturated market, never had it been so necessary to produce a magazine cover that would get the reader’s attention in seconds:
- Tell A Story. One way of engaging the reader instantly is by having a cover design that tells a story. It shouldn’t be just a photograph and a jumble of fonts. It has to have a message with a compelling image and benefits to offer and sell.
- Revisit The Past. Annual issues of magazines make for some great inspirations. Check Rolling Stones’ Woodstock anniversary edition, get an old copy of the New York Times magazine, research the best magazine covers of the last 40 years. There’s so much you can do with their concepts without shedding an ounce of your title’s identity.
- Get Them Curious. Get clever with typography and write a powerful main story cover line that would intrigue people enough to grab a copy of your magazine from the stands. Just be careful with using texts and don’t make it too crowded on the layout, otherwise, you’ll lose your cover photo behind them.
- Break The Rules And Make It Count. What’s written in this article, and a thousand other articles about magazine covers for that matter, are guidelines, suggestions, and practices that may have high chances of working but at the end of the day, there are no hard and fast rules for designing a magazine cover. This is because magazines have been known to ditch the rule book every once in a while, especially when the times and the subject call for it. And sometimes, breaking the rules even becomes a brilliant strategy for consistency.
Types of Magazine Covers
Designing a magazine cover is a complicated process which involves brainstorming concepts from the editorial board to the creative team. The marketplace is getting more and more crowded which means a strategically designed cover is very important to have. Here are the two most common types of magazine covers you can use:
- Image Based Covers. Think fashion, women’s, men’s and celebrity magazines. While you’re at it, think of National Geographic and Time magazines. All of them use full and sometimes compelling images. Travel magazines also feature beautiful landscapes on the cover and food magazines always seem to have photos of inviting meals in great colors on their covers.
- Illustration Based Covers. In the past, magazine covers which use illustrations have gained high popularity. For instance, The New Yorker has kept its cover design unchanged with unique, sometimes satirical illustrations since its publication in 1925. These days, illustrations on magazine covers are trying to go with the extraordinary or funny concepts, with some of them being computer generated.
Magazine Cover Sizes
Magazine sizes can vary but these are your standard magazine cover sizes:
- Standard Size: 8 3 ⁄8” x 10 7 ⁄8”
- Digest Size: 5 3 ⁄8” x 8 3 ⁄8”
If you want to print an undersized or over-sized cover and not any of the two standard sizes, you will almost always have to spend higher.
Magazine Cover FAQs
What is the purpose of a magazine cover?
A magazine cover is what the company uses to entice the audience or convince them quickly that they need to buy the magazine. The cover is where you have to get very critical because it’s the magazine’s major selling point.
How important is the cover design?
Understanding the pre-press process of your magazine means nailing your design. Although people spend most of their time reading the content, they’re not going to buy a magazine in the first place if the cover doesn’t have a good design.
What size are magazine covers?
The standard size of a magazine cover is 8 inches by 11 inches although you may need to leave some bleed area.
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