10 things to do to get your magazine artwork right

Getting your magazine artwork right first time and right every time is impossible. Fact. Seeing the amount of magazines we have coming through our door every week I guarantee there is always at least one spelling or one grammatical mistake.  This coupled with the varying skill set of graphic design’ all magazines are not created equal.  But that’s a good thing, we love them for their information and unless you are appealing to a Times or New Scientist audience then I wouldn’t fret about finding a problem after your magazine has been published online and in print.

Saying that there are some ways to try to protect yourself from misspells and items being in the wrong place so here is our top 10 ways to get your magazine right:

1. Write your content in Word, Google Docs or a word processor not on the graphic design software.  Just because you want it to fit the space doesn’t mean that your copy is grammatically correct and all spellings are right. First impressions are everything and although misspells are very common.  You don’t want to be known as the magazine that looks pretty but isn’t very clever on the inside.

2. Are all your images in one place? Today it is even easier to have all your images accessible from one location be it on your PC or mac but equally as easy to have all your files archived online using one of a number of free services online.  You may have heard of Google Drive, Dropbox  or Microsoft’s One Drive these collaborative tools give you a useful amount of space for free that you can access anywhere with the right security details and you can even share your online space with others working on your magazine with you.  Just remember that space is cheap online normally through small direct debit payments and don’t forget this can be scaled up to larger spaces as and when you need more storage and people working with you.

3. Third Party Proof Reading – Please make sure some one reads your magazine cover to cover that hasn’t written it before it goes to print.  We see at least one spelling mistake or grammatical error with most magazines we print because people haven’t spotted them.  But don’t worry if there is one or two errors in your content it is common place and even the national magazines and newspapers go to print with errors. So unless you have a glaring error in your front cover or an advertisers advertisement is wrong then you really shouldn’t worry.  But get it checked just in case…

4. Brand Magazine – Does your magazine have a theme or brand? A great logo and consistent brand theme throughout your magazine will give your readers and advertisers the air of professionalism that should maintain their reading loyalty and therefore the advertisers consistency with parting with their marketing budget with you and not your competition.

5. Fonts- Remember your magazine is not about your personal taste (most of the time) its about your readers and your advertisers return on their investment.  Fonts in your magazine can make the reading and aesthetic experience infinity better.  You need to choose strong headline fonts this could be just bold versions of your body content.  There are many theories about choosing the right font to relate to your audience but you need to make sure its readable, clear and most should have small or zero Serifs (little fancy bits on the edge of the letters), it just dates the look. Unless you want that of course…

6. Image Quality –  You may have heard phrases like dpi or ppi when images quality comes up in conversation. But the rules are pretty simple and if you stick to them you will never have an issue. Rule 1. If you take an image from the web, do you have permission to use it? If not It’s illegal! Rule 2. Most images on the web are smaller or lower quality than print requires so unless you buy it or acquire it over 300 dpi then it will pixillate and will not print very well. Rule 3. Right click on any image stored on your computer and you will see the properties of the file this will often give you an indicator of the image quality and if it’s not over 300 dpi. Go and get another image. It will only make your magazine look unprofessional.

7. Professional design packages – Graphic design is a skill set that you can get qualifications in, coupled with years of experience a ‘trained eye’  will work more efficiently and should produce a better result for printing and online design.  Do not take this for granted! Your attempt on Microsoft Publisher maybe ‘ok’ to your eye.  But we rarely see a fully polished product that is printable using Microsoft’s attempt at a design package for the general populous, so where possible look at You Tube or read articles on how to get the best out of your design package.

8. Design Costs – How much should it cost to design a magazine? Now there’s a question.  This is massively dependent on your finished goal.  We work to set costs including one round of amendments.  As we understand that all clients find changes that need updating including spelling mistakes, image changes and advertisers.   Some designers work by the page which can work for both parties to understand and budget the costs.  Others can work by time, this can be great for the designer especially if you are unorganised so be careful and always make sure you understand how you are being charged.

9. Design for Print or Online? There is a difference in the quality of the final product when designing for print.  All images must be over 300dpi and text must be converted to outlines (or curves) in order to maintain all design layouts.  The final artwork submitted to us (the printer) must include 3mm bleed and crop marks in a pdf format ideally so that we can proof it correctly back to you and get it ready for printing.  With an online magazine the design process is very similar but the file does not need the printer marks (Crop and bleed) to be submitted.  There may be a need to plan for third applications like augmented reality or live interactive elements like links or videos. This process is normally applied in Adobe’s Acrobat Pro of the third party software usually online as you upload the pages.  Our eBook tools offer full interactivity to all devices and with a bit of forethought can increase revenue to you, make the reader experience unique and engaging.

10. Think about your audience – When it comes to magazine design there are personal touches we see applied by every designer.  But do they actually add to the design or does your reader get put off by fussy and sometimes complicated page layout.  I bet that the higher end magazines have the least fussiest design.  There is a reason for this.  Think abut your fonts, your colours, your page flow and your wording.  All have an impact on the audience they attract and ultimately the advertiser that wants to speak and engage with .

Magazine Design is a very personal thing to the publisher and the designer but always make sure you put yourself in your readers and advertisers shoes.  They are the ones that will make a success of your magazine so present them with clear, engaging and well written content that appeals to them and you will do no wrong!  If you need any help or advice with magazine layout our studio will happily help.  Just give them a call or drop us an email.



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