How to make your magazine graphically appealing

It is important to consider how a magazine is presented. Serious magazines filled with nuanced, high quality content is competing against tabloid and unpolitical magazines for attention. When we make our magazines, we don’t want to compromise on content, but we are forced to do it. In order to reach youth with our message, it is important to make varied and shorter/smaller pieces of content. This blog post will however not be about this interesting compromise, but about something a lot less controversial, that helps reach people with your message: making your magazine graphically appealing.

Firstly, it’s important to have some sort of unity in your content. A magazine where every page looks completely separate from eachother doesn’t lead the viewer onwards in the text, and also looks messy. So before you even begin to put all the pieces of content together in a magazine format, also called setting the magazine, you need to together decide how you want everything to look and feel.
When deciding this, consider how different colours and shapes express and convey different emotions. The visual identity of our political youth parties, and who the target group of the magazine is, makes it so that our magazines have quite different graphical styles. SUFs magazine is meant exclusively to their own members, they want to keep costs down to publish more of them, and so their magazine has a simple and timeless design with lots of white, and with few pictures. RU on the other hand has a magazine they primarily hand out at schools and at youth clubs to people who usually don’t read magazines like it, and so they have prioritized to publish fewer, but more vibrant, graphically complex magazines with more pictures. This in hopes of making more of an impact quickly.
Questions to ask yourself during this process can be:
Do you want to have a simple or complex visual identity? Who do you want to appeal to? Where will this magazine be – alone on a table, or with tens of other magazines on a stand? Do you want to use lots of pictures or illustrations? How long will it be? How much time do you want to spend on each magazine?
When the group has decided for a visual identity, make sure to spend some time on making the logo and common elements used often fit in with this theme, and look good. They will be used often, and it is a good priority to spend some time on them.
After this, use a program like Word or Pages to start setting the magazine. These programs are relatively easy to use and makes starting easy, which is important. They do however limit what you can do quite drastically, and if you really want to up your game, investing in something like Adobe InDesign. If you do, be patient. Learning programs meant for professionals and advanced amateurs takes time, and the learning curve can de steep. A good stepping stone can be using a program like Adobe Photoshop or Gimp to make illustrations to use in the magazine, but still using a program like Word or Pages for actually setting it. So many amateur political blogs and magazines have failed because the team behind it has too high ambitions. Getting your first okay magazine out, is a lot better than spending half a year making something perfect, but then just never finishing it.

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