please crit my magazine spread

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mike's picture
Joined: 12 Apr 2006 - 9:47pm
please crit my magazine spread

hi everyone.

could you please crit me on my composition, type faces/typography, article flow, readability, etc of these magazine spreads?

task: create magazine spreads for two given articles. first article is on new ideas that came about in 2005. the second article is about a father's loss of his son in the iraq war.

demographic: boston readers (age 20-30), low to mid income, college education.

concept: i want the magazine to have a fresh look and feel to it, plenty of friendly white space, and to look cutting edge and still appeal to a little older crowd.

crit me hard, i’m a graphic design major!


edit: i can't figure out how to attach a file. he's a link to the pdf

Geoff Riding's picture
Joined: 22 May 2005 - 12:53am

You IM'ed me for a crit and here you have it. ;^)

Well, first off, I feel there is a complete lack of dynamic in the composition, there is no energy coming off the pages. The type feels like it’s floating in the middle of no where, too much white space.

The problem with this I see is that you don’t really have a lot of copy. You should cut down to two spreads from three. This will challenge you design-wise as you’ll find yourself trying to fit in all that copy without it turning ugly! To me, this is what editorial design is all about.

Ok, to pick a few issues I can see with the typography;

- The use of type for the article headings is weak. For instance, in the second article you could make it “THE HOME FRONT” in a large-ish setting and the rest of the heading subset in smaller type. You need to grab the readers' attention to the article.

- There is inconsistent spacing between the sub-headings and the body text in the first article.

- There are quite a few orphans in there; end lines consisting only a single word = ugly! Track or adjust H&J to get rid of them.

- As it is, the images/graphics doesn’t complement the type and vice versa. I think you need to work on the relationship between the type, white space and the images/graphics, get them to work off each other.

Good luck. :^)

Anthony Rubolotta's picture
Joined: 13 Apr 2006 - 10:41am


I think you're off to a good start. With some refining these spreads could be very effective. Geoff's comments above are dead on. Here are some more design notes to chew on.

With editorial design it's so important to fully understand your audience and your content. Right now, I don't see how these layouts would appeal to a reader between the ages of 20-30. The type choices/treatments feel very conservative and a little dated, and the images don't seem to match the tone of the articles. Your content is very interesting and relevant, and deserves a visual treatment that embodies those characteristics.

Overall, I'd say the spreads of the New Ideas story suffers from not enough fun with the type/design. This is a piece about innovation and challenging the status quo. You can explore that with your layout, which is currently extremely rigid and restrained.

On the Iraq story, there is no differentiation between your lead-in paragraph and your body copy. A variation in weight, size or color could help enliven the opening page of the article which needs to draw readers into it. Also on this page, the photo completely misrepresents the story. This is a modern conflict, and the focus is on the soldier's family who is stateside. Don't belie your title.

Throughout all the spreads, there's a heavy use of white space, which doesn't deliver the push-and-pull I think you're trying to acheive, save for the 5th spread which I think works quite nicely (but watch the pargraph jumps, most readers will read down the page at the break, rather than to the right).

Finally, the page folios are large and ubiquitous: a nice treatment, but is it that important that readers are constantly reminded of what page of the spring 2006 issue of Hub they are reading?

Hope that wasn't too painful. Good luck with your assignment!

Tim Daly's picture
Joined: 11 Sep 2003 - 9:04am

A few more typesetting items to consider,
Use the fi and fl ligatures;
Separate the quotes from the soldier in his emails, possibly italicise them, maybe use an indent on both sides;
Check that times are all shown in the same way the use of a colon seems most reasonable.
While checking for orphans watch out for single lines that go to the next column (I would aim for a minimum of three lines to either stay or go over for a paragraph that runs over two columns);
Consistent use of either spacehyphenspace or em-dash, I understand the prevailing choice for USA is the em-dash;
There is a four dotted ellipsis sitting on the last spread that doesn't have the same indent as the paragraphs, in fact doesn't seem to contribute in any way, (I would use a three dotted one);
The Pleistocene story ends with a grey quad, but the others don't.

I quite like the treatment for images on the earlier spreads and the way some blocks of type cut into the image area, however as has already been noted the white space is, at the moment, working against the designs.
Amerigo wouldn't be my first choice for this kind of use, I think it tends to sparkle too much, you could consider using more than one text face maybe a sans and serif, especially for the Year in Ideas spreads, let one or two items take a lead position.
You asked for a hard crit, I hope these remarks and the ones already given are constructive as well.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am

> friendly white space

What's "friendly" about it?
That it relieves the user from thinking?


Terrance Weinzierl's picture
Joined: 9 Jun 2005 - 3:37pm

I think it needs more images, and maybe closer attention to hierarchy, size varaition, break the grid a little bit. But the type looks clean, and the photoshop collages are pretty cool.

mike's picture
Joined: 12 Apr 2006 - 9:47pm

Thanks everyone for the advice.

After many, many revisions and type face changes (recently going back to my original choice) I'm ready for another crit.

Could you please crit the revision? It's really important to me that these look amazing.

I'm interested in what you think of my layouts and composition balance. Do my layouts feel unorganized?


ps. For the Home Front article I'm using images of the family, however I'm fighting will low-res images and I don't think i'm going to be able to bleed the images off the page. Unfortunetly, I think images are going to have to be pretty small to look even halfway decent. Any advice?