Magazine layout is one of the things that sets a magazine apart from other publications. Magazines are meant to be read, but they’re also a visual experience.

You might not notice all of the work that goes into creating a magazine layout that looks fantastic, but you definitely notice if it’s been done poorly. The last thing you want is to lose readers because your design isn’t up to par.

So how do you create magazine layouts that are functional, visually interesting, and easy to make? Read on for your step-by-step guide to creating a magazine layout.

1. Plan Your Content

You should plan out the content of your magazine before you even touch a computer. You can’t properly plan your layout if you don’t know what you’re going to be publishing.

What stories are you going to include in the issue? Will you have a photography spread? Will it be text-heavy or a balanced mix of media and text?

You should have answers to all of these questions already before you begin designing your magazine. If you have an editorial staff, work with them to decide on the final content that will make it into the magazine.

Once you know what your magazine will include, then you can get started on building your layout.

2. Create Master Pages

There are a lot of pages that go into a magazine, and designing each of them one by one would be a drain on your time. Instead, create master pages that will help to determine your overall layout and feel of the magazine.

You don’t want to create just one master page because then your magazine will look the same on every page. You want unity and cohesiveness, but it shouldn’t be too uniform or it will be boring to look at.

Instead, you can create multiple master pages. For example, create a master page for the first page of a feature, and a master page for the text-pages in between.

Your master pages should include things like your page numbers, the background you want to use, and any borders or designs on the edges of your pages. This also helps to make sure that there aren’t any inconsistencies in your magazine — you don’t want the page numbers at the beginning to be in a different spot on the page than the page numbers toward the end.

3. Play With Color

Once you have your master pages set, you can start to make them more engaging.

Think of any magazine on the shelf of a convenience store. If you pick one up at random and flip through it, will you see mostly white or will you be greeted with bursts of color?

Color has a big influence on the look and feel of your magazine. It can even help to set the tone of specific articles you include within each issue. As you design your magazine layout, make sure that you’re thinking about the different ways that you can use color.

Not all of your page backgrounds, for example, should be white. Maybe the feature page has a patterned background or a photograph behind it to add some visual interest.

You can also add color in different ways. Consider making the headline text a different color than the body, or changing the border colors of photographs to fit an overarching theme.

4. Add Contrast

Adding contrast into magazine layouts helps to make them visually interesting instead of too boring or jarring.

Contrast can come in a lot of different forms. You might know that you want to use the same font throughout your magazine for the body of the articles, but how do you choose a headline font?

You don’t want to use the same one — the key is finding fonts that set each other off nicely but don’t look like they’re fighting for space on the page. The contrast is important.

You can also add contrast with color. Selecting a background color for a feature page that stands out from an article page signals to the reader that the feature page is important. Adding a sidebar in a different color draws the eye to the information that you want to share.

There are lots of ways that you can play with this.

5. Include Multimedia

Whether your magazine is print, digital, or both, you should always include multimedia in your magazine.

For a magazine that’s strictly print, this can look like photography, infographics, illustrations, or graphs that help to build on the stories that you’re telling. The saying “A picture is worth a thousand words” might be cliche, but it’s also correct. Your magazine isn’t finished without adding media.

You can include the media mentioned above in digital editions, too, but you should feel free to do more with a digital issue. Digital magazines allow you to include things like video, interactive quizzes, audio, and GIFs. If you’re only including media that shows up traditionally in print, you’re not using the full potential of digital publishing.

6. Check Your Work

Finally, before your magazine layout can be called finished, you should make sure you read over everything and check your work. It might help you to print all of the pages off and lay them out in front of you so that you can see how the designs of each page work together — or don’t.

This is an opportunity to see if your magazine article layout is harmonious, or if it still needs work before sending it out to readers.

If everything looks good, congratulations. You’ve successfully created a magazine layout!

Create Your Magazine Layout With MagLoft

Now you’re prepared to create a fantastic magazine layout that’s ready for print and digital publications.

Ready to put your design skills into practice? Use MagLoft to build a digital magazine from scratch, no coding experience required. Whether you’ve already built your magazine on a different software or are looking for a way to get started, MagLoft makes creating digital magazines affordable and easy.

Choose the plan that’s right for you today.