Magazine typography critique

Edward Long's picture


Just joined Typophile and enjoying the various forum discussions.

I set up a magazine at my University last year and have printed two issues. I do the editing and design but am just a hobbyist designer and still have a lot to learn.

The look of the magazine has been complimented by a lot of "lay" readers but I'd be keen to get any suggestions for ways to improve it for the forthcoming issue from people with a more discerning eye. The main typefaces are Caecilia and Arno. I don't want to change either of them as I think they help establish a visual consistency in the publication. I would be happy to hear more suggestions on grid layouts, combining type with images, supplementary information (there are some grey boxes with extra info in some articles) and contents page design. I'm wondering whether the article titles should be more interesting as well. I used different typefaces for these in Issue 1, but stuck to Caecilia for Issue 2.

Issues 1 and 2 can be viewed on the "Issues" page of the website:

I think I'm fairly thick-skinned so don't hold back too much but bear in mind it's an amateur magazine edited and designed by volunteers.


microspective's picture

Hi Ed,

Congrats on your magazines, and welcome to Typophile.

On first glance, the overall appearance of this magazine is quite nice, especially considering its "amateur" nature, as you say.

Some thoughts:

  • Consider avoiding hyphenation on short, ragged-egde paragraphs (e.g. p.2 of each issue and much of your "Further reading" sections). You may also wish to consider avoiding hyphenating proper nouns. This is often a matter of personal preference, but I encourage practicing it.
  • Something about the narrow gutter width distracts me, but I can't put my finger on it. Perhaps someone else can help me define it.
  • The folio numbers look oversized to me, but again, maybe that's a matter of personal preference, too.
  • Not type-related, but I thought the muted red of issue one contributed a better vibe throughout the magazine compared to the vibrant red of the second.
  • Good correction of consistent type families for the second issue. I found the variation extremely distracting in the first; to the point that I wondered if one of them was an ad.
  • PDF versions: After creating your PDF, you have the option for the viewer to see it like a magazine, with a cover and subsequent spreads. When the PDF finishes exporting, open it, press Command-D, go to "Initial View" and choose "Two-up (Cover page)" and then choose "Fit Page." Voila! A digital magazine! (I should specify that it will probably only open in the customized view with Adobe Acrobat/Reader, not Preview. Not sure about other third-party PDFers...)

Okay. I'm done boring you with nitpicky things that the others may find unnecessary. ; )

Nice stuff, and good luck!


Quincunx's picture

At first glance, I think it looks pretty good. I will take a better look at it later, when I have more time! :)

Edward Long's picture

Hi Ray,

Thanks for the quick response. Hyphenation is something I was planning to look at for the next issue. I'd like to keep the main body justified, so hyphens are kind of unavoidable there, but I will definitely try and keep them out of all of the ragged text next time. Certainly wouldn't hurt to set the "Further reading" ragged.

I liked the muted red on-screen as well, but the brighter one works much better in print. Although we print a small number and otherwise distribute by PDF, I'm more worried about the paper version looking nice than the electronic one. By "folio number" do you mean the numbering in the contents or at the bottom of the page? Either of them could drop a size probably to match the text in the "Team" section or "Further reading" bits.

Anyway, thanks again: it's great to have some input. I am just going on the advice of Bringhurst at the moment!

microspective's picture

Folio: Page number

"Just" Bringhurst? If I had to choose only one book to recommend for someone doing what you're doing, it would be his. : )

Edward Long's picture

Sorry, yeah I meant "just" as in "solely" not as in "merely"... Bringhurst is a God among men, er, people :-)

shielddesign's picture


The magazine looks pretty great for an amateur one! One suggestion would be that if you want to run the type on the logo and other department heads off the top you might not want to cut it off on the sides. The reason being you never want those kind of things to seem like they might have been a printing mistake or not thought out. I do like the type running off the top however. Maybe you could bleed the box off the right but leave more space between the edge of the page and the right of the word.

good luck!

Edward Long's picture

Which bit gets cut off at the side? The front cover title in Issue 1? Yeah, I think I might use text with no box for the future issues, and could certainly bring the title further onto the page. The "s" motif at the top of the pages does print in pretty variable positions but I'm happy enough with it as it is. Maybe the text with the article titles next to it could use some extra space before the "s" though.

shielddesign's picture

Like this...see how the top of the logo feels more intentional now that the logo is farther from the edge on the right?

Edward Long's picture

Yeah, that is a better look. Thanks.

Unrelated question which I wasn't sure where to ask: are the red square badges on the corners of people's avatars a sign of something or just a nod to the Typophile icon that they've added themselves?

microspective's picture

They were from a Typophile donation campaign a year or two ago. A tear, a heart, and I think a dagger with blood dripping or something. I think the values were $25, $50, and $100+ or so, respectively. I donated, but never affixed my tear badge, so just pretend. : )

Quincunx's picture

> They were from a Typophile donation campaign a year or two ago. A tear, a heart, and I think a dagger with blood dripping or something. I think the values were $25, $50, and $100+ or so, respectively. I donated, but never affixed my tear badge, so just pretend.

The donation campaign is still in place, in the typophile shop:

Edward Long's picture

Just bumping this thread as I just printed a new issue of the magazine.

PDF at . Nothing particularly avant garde in the design but I think I've tightened up a lot of the design elements since the first issue and I was really pleased with the contents page.

Hope you like the design and the content!

More crit always welcome.

Edward Long's picture

Oh, and Ray – I tried to put in practice all the things you mentioned: being stricter with hypthenation, dropping page number size, increased gutter width (for 2 column pages) etc.

Also, a PDF with page spreads is here:

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