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14 magazine layout design ideas for your inspiration

2021-05-10

By: Karla Renée

Thanks to the internet and a general abundance of graphic design tools, tapping into design inspiration is easier than ever. And regardless of what type of design you’re looking to achieve, there’s a layout or brand template that can help you get started. 

Take magazines for instance. Magazines, both digital and printed, are excellent means of communication, marketing and more. And putting your own special touch on a magazine — with the help of a magazine design layout of course — is totally within reach.

Related: 5 ways to monetize your online magazine

How to create a magazine layout

In order to understand the “how-to” in doing something, you must understand the “why.” 

There are four core graphic design principles that will ultimately help your guide magazine layout design. Keep in mind these principles are in no specific order and each carries equal importance:

  1. Hierarchy — How people read or consume the information, i.e., what’s most important? What are the key takeaways here? And how do you showcase that? You want this information to be visible right out the gate. 

  2. Purpose — As in, why should someone be reading this, why should they care? People need to understand the point of your magazine. Is it something that needs to be communicated through a photo story or with words? 

  3. Readability — Basically, you want your information and magazine to be easy to understand. Or in the very least, you need the purpose to be easy to understand. Are you pairing poetry with images, or are you articulating EOY program goals for a non-profit? Either way, your choice in communication and end goal needs to be clear.

  4. Balance — Chaos can be art, but it’s not always beautiful or helpful as it pertains to graphic design. You want to strike a balance between a visual or graphic design feeling cluttered or weighted to one side, as well as sparse or empty. 

magazine layout elements

Image from Yes I’m a Designer, by Kevin Fay

In the image above, you’ll see various callouts for certain design elements — keep in mind, each of the design elements serve a specific purpose, whether it’s to help break up a wall of text, illustrate a point with images or something else. 

Now, let’s dive into some more magazine design examples!

And like many things in this world, magazine design has its own language. So before you dive into tinkering with the graphic design elements in a magazine template, let’s run through a few Need to Know Terms.

Magazine design inspiration

So if you want to create a sharp, eye-catching magazine that effectively balances important information about your organization or brand with iconic graphic design components such as images, columns and sidebars, we've got some great design inspiration and resources for you today. Check out the 14 ideas below to get started.

Magazine design inspiration

So if you want to create a sharp, eye-catching magazine that effectively balances important information about your organization or brand with iconic graphic design components such as images, columns and sidebars, we've got some great design inspiration and resources for you today. Check out the 14 ideas below to get started.

1. Adventure Digital Magazine

If your magazine features immersive photography, your graphic design, layout and magazine design should give more weight to imagery than words. The layout of this Adventure digital magazine template shows how to put your photos front and center while balancing images with sections of text. And, as a digital magazine, this gives you the bonus option of scrolling text, meaning you can include long-form content without taking space or eyes away from the graphics.

Adventure Digital Magazine Inspiration

2. Aficionado e-Magazine

Traditional publications tend to avoid using a horizontal magazine layout because it can be unwieldy to (physically) hold. But with the growing popularity of tablets and e-readers, we’ve noticed that designers are revisiting the concept. This Aficionado e-magazine template is a great jumping-off point for design inspiration, and undoubtedly gives you a few ideas for orienting pages horizontally. For instance — the columns alone offer a variety of graphic design capabilities:

  • Split the page in half

  • Be weighted more towards one side

  • Skipped altogether in favor of rich photography and breathable white space

Aficionado e-Magazine Inspiration

3. Azure Magazine

What's great about the Azure magazine layout is how well it lends itself to color customization. The blocky columns and bold fonts make the content feel easy to read, so, really the sky’s the limit in terms of color combinations. Just remember to choose high contrast colors for text and backgrounds! This magazine design layout is an excellent candidate for brands with strong color palettes. Another idea: it's well-known that colors can evoke particular emotions — so take advantage of psychology.

Azure Magazine Inspiration

4. Connoisseur Food Magazine

What stands out in the Connoisseur food magazine layout is the use of colorful sections that separate each page. You can customize just about anything — from a single column surrounded by photography to three narrow columns that jive side-by-side. The layout works vertically or horizontally, so you get multiple options in one template, along with ample space to include mouth-watering close-ups of delicious dishes.

Connoisseur Food Magazine Inspiration

5. Introspective Digital Magazine

Never underestimate the power of the “less is more” design approach. The concept holds true for the Introspective digital magazine layout. This magazine design makes the most of negative space and contrast to leave a strong impression. Stark, black-and-white photography and rich fonts serve this layout particularly well. And because it's digital, scrolling text and rich media (like video) can be included. Try it with film noir!

Introspective Digital Magazine Inspiration

6. Money Fake Magazine Cover

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be on the cover of a magazine? The Money fake magazine cover is a chance to do so and have a little fun while you’re at it with a traditional cover layout. We all know the formula: a large portrait situated front and center, underneath the masthead and surrounded by intriguing teasers for the articles inside. Even the details are correct here, such as date and issue number, as well as a UPC code at the bottom.

Money Fake Magazine Cover Inspiration

7. New Yorker Business Magazine

The New Yorker business magazine layout is primarily black and white, but it adds a pop of vibrant red for powerful emphasis. Its thin font and art-deco touches set it apart from the monochrome intensity of the Introspective layout in #5. Note the expansive cushions of white space, especially in the single-column layout which features scrolling text with a single quote spotlighted on either side.

New Yorker Business Magazine Inspiration

8. On the Road Magazine

There are several elements to like in the On the road magazine layout. First, you’ve got the pages with a white border that frame the content, which evoke in the mind of its readers a nostalgia for the Polaroid picture. If that sounds a little too vintage for your taste, check out how one page cuts two photos together with no border at all. The juxtaposition is intriguing, providing only a narrow slice of a view that sparks the imagination.

On the Road Magazine Inspiration

9. Open Air Online Magazine

True to its name, the Open air online magazine layout leaves plenty of room for airy background photos. Adding transparency to the content blocks and bringing them in from the margins a little bit provides that sense of depth. The pages are open windows; it feels like the content is floating in front of the natural vistas. It's a neat visual trick that works especially well with scrolling columns, a design advantage unique to digital magazine layouts.

Open Air Online Magazine Inspiration

10. Seasons Digital Magazine

Digital layouts don't have to look amateur, like this Seasons digital magazine layout showcases. It's possible to craft elegant, sophisticated content that still feels as though it belongs on a screen, and oriented horizontally instead of vertically. The juxtaposition of serif copy with sans-serif headlines creates a stylistic identity that's both traditional and modern — a comfortable in-between place for those of us who grew up with the rise of the internet.

Seasons Digital Magazine Inspiration

11. Showcase Travel Magazine

The Showcase travel magazine layout is designed for readability above all else. There is a clear division between pages dedicated to photography and pages dedicated to copy. For a travel magazine, this is a wise choice, because viewers can more easily immerse themselves in faraway vistas without distraction. The same can also be said of diving into the exciting narratives which accompany such photos. Not every subject is well-served by this stark separation between various content pieces, but for travel, it's a perfect fit.

Showcase Travel Magazine Inspiration

12. Trendsetter Fashion Magazine

Like in art, sometimes the best designs are those which purposefully ignore the rules. For example, much is made of the color wheel and matching complementary tones into combinations that please the eye. But how much more impactful is it to pair a hot pink or bright yellow with scenes that would normally be considered tranquil? A look at the Trendsetter fashion magazine layout illustrates the possibilities. If your magazine explores the avant-garde, it's worth considering how font and color choices can convey your position on the outer edges of sensibility.

Trendsetter Fashion Magazine Inspiration

13. Tropic Magazine Cover

Designing a magazine cover need not be a complicated affair. Readers are accustomed to magazine covers looking a certain way, and they can scan covers more efficiently when designers follow a familiar formula. This Tropic magazine cover exemplifies the typical layout in a simple and well-balanced way. It's easy to succumb to clutter (looking at you every website from 1999), but this layout uses a minimal design that still includes the necessities — the title, the headlining article, two featured pieces and photography.

Tropic Magazine Inspiration

14. Urban Print Magazine

Like a newspaper, the Urban print magazine layout divides itself into many columns, presenting dense and information-rich content for its readers to scan or consume at their own pace. If you've struggled with creating readable layouts that feature multiple columns, this layout offers a wealth of examples. Headers, sub-headers, blockquotes and numbered lists all serve as valuable tools for pulling eyes down the page.

Urban Print Magazine Inspiration

Creating your own magazine layouts can feel like an intimidating task, but it becomes much easier when you take a look at all the great design ideas already out there. Borrowing a little bit here and a little bit there will help you build something totally new and unique—plus, it can inspire you to come up with tricks of your own! We hope these magazine layouts provide a solid foundation for you to make designs that reflect your own artistic flair.

Ready to start designing your own magazine? Get a head start in our gallery for free magazine templates & layouts.

Free magazine templates

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Karla Renée

Karla Renée is the Associate Content Manager for Lucidpress. Her specialties include brand strategy, content marketing, and social media management. She loves creative writing and new tech devices, and she's never visited a museum she didn't like.

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