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magazine article conventions

Codes & Conventions: Article Page Layouts

Magazine Articles use codes and conventions such as:

magazine article conventions

A) Find 4 different magazine articles – place them side by side and (looking at them all) identify and annotate the key conventions they all use.

B) Pick one film magazine article and deconstruct it in detail. Identify a) the codes and conventions the article uses b) how the article communicates to it’s target audience?

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Digital Magazine Production

Codes and Conventions: Articles

Magazine Articles use codes and conventions such as:

Examples in Print and Digital:

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The generic conventions of magazines feature article

Jenny McNulty

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magazine article conventions

Magazine Cover Analysis


Magazines remain a key part of the media landscape. Some specialist publications target a niche audience while others are more mainstream and appeal to a range of ages and interests. With such a competitive market, a combination of a strong image or concept with snippets of stories is required to grab the audience’s attention. This guide will walk you through the codes and conventions of magazine covers.

If you would like to annotate your own copy of the front cover, you can  download the worksheet . You can also view a larger version of the page by right-clicking on the image and opening it in a new window.

magazine front cover mock up

In publishing, the masthead refers to the title of the magazine. Printed in large type, it is usually positioned at the top of the page and fills the width of the cover. These factors ensure the brand is instantly recognisable.

The choice of colour and font weight will connect to the genre and ideology of the magazine. Consider the difference between the rough display type of “Kerrang” compared to the elegance of “Brides” magazine:

Kerrang magazine logo

Although the colour of the title will change according to the particular needs of the issue, the black and grungy title here connotes a rebellious quality, and the use of bold weighting and capital letters conveys confidence. These meanings will resonate with the psychographic profile of the target audience. The lack of space between the letters, known as kerning, makes title visually appealing because we are not distracted by empty spaces. The word kerrang is defined as a power chord struck on the guitar. In some ways, the presentation of the title echoes this meaning.

“Kerrang’s” nameplate is set in a modern typeface called  Druk Condensed Super Italic . This sans-serif font is much brasher than the graceful serif of the  Eldorado Relay  typeface used by “Brides”. Again, the colour of the masthead will change to match the palette of each issue, but this magazine tends to use gold, pink and white quite regularly because of their associations with femininity and luxury. The capital letters look self-assured and ensure the title is the centre of attention.

If you look closely, you can see manual kerning has been employed so the space between each letter is tight but appropriate. Zoom in and spot the difference between “B” and “R” compared to “I” and “D”. This variation ensures the title is as big as possible on the cover but remains legible to the reader.

More generally, if the publication is well-known, the masthead might be obscured by the main image. This layering effect a nice design feature and is aesthetically pleasing.

In conclusion, the masthead should establish the brand and its values. This can be achieved through the choice of font and position on the cover. These two examples certainly encode a clear message to the audience.

Cover Image

Celebrity sells. Many publications note a sharp increase in revenue when the most famous faces dominate the cover. Music magazines will splash an image of a popular band or artist on the front page, while the main actor from the latest blockbuster will no doubt help sell a film magazine.

Invariably, the direct gaze of the person will pierce the viewer and a medium shot or close-up will connect us to the emotional energy of the glamorous model or star. Other non-verbal codes will help support the magazine’s values and message, such as how a smiling bride or the powerful stance of a sports star encode the right meaning for the target audience.

To achieve the most appropriate representation, the mise-en-scène needs to be controlled so expect the main image to be taken from a studio photoshoot. High key lighting is used in fashion magazines to the keep the image fresh and youthful.

Of course, the main image will be directly related to the lead article.

Featured Article

Magazines are full of news reviews, interviews, opinion pieces, exposes, and behind the scenes stories. However, a feature is a longer piece of writing which covers an issue in greater depth than a normal report. The lead article will also be some sort of exclusive with the broadest appeal to the readership.

To give the story prominence, the designers will use large lettering and position the words in a contrasting colour to the background image. In our mock-up, the headline is a similar blue to the character’s clothes, so an opaque box was added to help make it stand out to the reader.

Other important stories are floated along the sides of the cover. Bold and italics will emphasise the text. No matter if they are human interest stories, celebrity gossip, or a profile of a famous politician, short and catchy buzzwords are used to tease the reader into buying the magazine. Enigma codes are also very engaging because they encourage to reader to find out more. Of course, the mode of address will vary depending on the publication, especially if the readers expect the language to be formal or informal.

There might also be a colour connection between the clothing worn by the cover actor and the font choice. In the mock-up, coverline one matches the blue outfit of the character. For the other stories, blue and pink are appealing contrasting colours.

If you are designing your own magazine cover for your coursework, remember it is really difficult to make the headlines stand out if they are placed on a pattern or mixed-coloured background.

Puffs, Plugs and Boxouts

If you do have a multicoloured background with very few areas of high contrast between light and shade, boxouts provide a great way to get your ideas across to the audience. They are simply coloured squares or rectangles positioned beneath the text to help the words stand out.

Another common convention of magazine covers is puffs. These eye-catching graphics are used to draw attention to the text. Instead of a square, the puff in our example is a circle and is conveniently identified by the words “Wow” and “This is a puff”. Importantly, a drop shadow has been used to create a sticker effect which is very popular with designers.

A strong outline, such as the one used for the “Win Stuff”, or a star shape are often used to plug a competition or some other incentive to purchase the magazine.

Strips and Banners

Look at the bottom of our mock-up and you will see a blue strip running across the cover and containing a list of items. These strips usually include information about more minor articles and regular features inside the magazine.

A banner is a larger version of this approach.

Price, Issue and Sell Lines

Magazines should include the date, issue, price and barcode on the cover. If you are creating your own cover, remember to add these details.

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Codes And Conventions Of Magazines

Codes And Conventions Of Magazines

by Millie Felton

  Many Magazines will be of a certain genre and will apply conventions associated to this genre in order to market  towards a target audience. For example, a magazine targeting towards a certain gender will usually have a ... More

  Many Magazines will be of a certain genre and will apply conventions associated to this genre in order to market  towards a target audience. For example, a magazine targeting towards a certain gender will usually have a  photograph of a celebrity of that gender as their main image.                                                                                                Magazines will also use colour to target towards a particular audience, for example pastel colours such as bright  pink and purple could be associated to teen magazines such as seventeen and darker colours such as blue and black  may be associated with male targeted magazine such as GQ or Men’s Health.                                                                            The text used within different genres of magazine are also visibly different and are purposely designed this way in  order to attract their target audience. For example, on the front cover of a women’s magazine it is very likely to  have Sub Less

Magazine Article Conventions

A feature article differs from a straight news story In several ways. A news story provides Information about a (generally current) event or situation. A feature article has more functionality and longevity- It Interprets news, adds depth, opinion or entertainment.

Essay Example on Structural Conventions

Headline: The headline of a feature article uses bold and descriptive language to draw the attention of the reader. Also works to construct a vivid image In the mind of the reader. Headline is always visually appealing: bold and clear.

Can sometimes contain Jokes. Puns or provocative language to entertain reader. Can also ask rhetorical questions.

Introduction: The introduction entices the reader, whilst clarifying the subject. It establishes the writer’s point of view/thesis. Uses direct quotations, recounts, questions, descriptions or a personal Interest story (the experiences of a person unique to the topic) to encourage readers to read further.

Body: Goes Into further detail about the topic. Answers any unanswered questions raised in the introduction.

Uses direct quotations, expert opinions, interviews, anecdotes, statistics and facts. Avoids lengthy complex paragraphs as articles are often written in columns.

Conclusion: Closes the epic by making final conclusions. Malignant the mood of the story.

Language: The language used in feature articles is persuasive and emotive: intended to create a particular emotional response in the mind of the reader (this could range from sorrow to anger or intrigue depending on the article). Articles can sometimes use “catch phrases” or a repetitive phrase to trigger a response In the audience.

magazine article conventions

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Selection and omission of detail Is significant. Language can sometimes be bold and exaggerated to create an emotional response: when reading, highlight words with particularly strong connotations.

Makes use of motive language, inclusive language (we, our), rhetorical questions and a mixture of long and short sentences. The language is also well suited to the target audience. For example, a feature article from Girlfriend magazine may use vocabulary that is suited to a young teenage reader, where as The New York Magazine may make specific references to places and words only New Yorkers would know. Images, data, graphs and statistics: Images that are unique to the story are often used to add to the emotion of the story. Photos of the people featured in the human-interest stories are often used.

Graphs ND pie charts are sometimes used as they add a visual element and can often “snack” ten reader. CE rattan Important quotations are Elodea Ana drawn out AT ten text to catch the reader’s attention (even if they do not read the full article, they are aware of the impact through the quotations used). Source and target audience: When analyzing a feature article, you must ask: What source did the article come from (I. E. What magazine, newspaper of Internet source)? Does the writer have an agenda (I. E. Are they trying to promote a particular point of view)?

Who is the intended target audience (you can determine this by tidying the language, and visual cues such as colors and images used)? Is the article free or do you have to pay to access it? Bias and point of view: Bias is the representation of one side of an issue or topic, without exploring or acknowledging an equally valid (but opposing) point of view. The writers of feature articles sometimes face pressure to promote a particular product, way of thinking or political point of view. Feature articles will also present “one side of the story’: writers may omit (leave out) certain ideas to add to the emotional power of the story.

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Magazine Article Conventions. (2019, Nov 27). Retrieved from

"Magazine Article Conventions." , 27 Nov 2019, (2019). Magazine Article Conventions . [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 22 Mar. 2023]

"Magazine Article Conventions.", Nov 27, 2019. Accessed March 22, 2023.

"Magazine Article Conventions," , 27-Nov-2019. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 22-Mar-2023] (2019). Magazine Article Conventions . [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 22-Mar-2023]

Magazine Article Conventions

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