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Magazines are visually pleasing, fun to read, and provide an ideal platform to sell goods and services. You can design a great-looking print or digital magazine by following these steps.

Want to follow along? This post will walk you through how to make a magazine with our customizable magazine templates.

1. Pick your topic

You can't have a magazine without a subject. Think about your area of expertise and the audience you are aiming for. Whether you're putting together a catalog showcasing handmade jewelry or knit caps, or a glossy magazine with lush photography for the tourism board, you need a clear, unifying topic.

Some potential topics to spark your interest are music, film, travel, current events, fashion, health and fitness, recreation, sports, gardening, and interior decoration. When you have deep knowledge of a topic, your readership will be more engaged with your magazine.

How to make a magazine

2. Choose a title

I've decided to create a travel magazine. Your title should be succinct and to the point. Remember that your title will represent your brand over time (in the case of some magazines, hundreds of years) and across platforms.

How to make a digital magazine

3. Choose your cover article

Every magazine has a cover article which receives the bulk of attention, both in design and content. In a celebrity-focused magazine, this will be an in-depth interview with the star on the cover. In our travel magazine, the cover image will highlight a destination which will be covered in detail inside. In this case, we've called our cover article "Travel of the Month."

How to make a magazine online

4. Find your cover image

What makes a compelling cover? Your eye is drawn to the top and center of the page, so your cover image should have its most interesting elements there. A handy design element to use is the rule of thirds. In Lucidpress, you can add guides by right-clicking the canvas or dragging lines from the ruler. When our magazine cover is divided into a 3 x 3 grid, you can see that the masthead is in the upper third, the feature articles are in the lower third, and our eye is drawn to the palm trees at the intersection of the grid lines.

Magazine cover template

Make sure you are using a high-quality image. A minimum of 300 ppi is necessary for print magazines. Your cover image is what is going to draw your audience in. It should match the topic of your magazine, be large and easy to take in at a glance, and have appealing colors. In Lucidpress, double-click the cover image to replace it with your own.

5. Design your masthead

The brand of a magazine is defined by its masthead. Time, Vogue, and National Geographic all have iconic mastheads. These publications use serif fonts. Billboard, GQ, and Glamour use sans serif fonts. The use of the same typeface issue after issue builds a consistent brand, while designers can play with the color of the text to match the cover image.

How to create a magazine

Decide if your masthead will be in front of your cover photo or behind it. For this magazine, we've placed the title in front of the image. Choose your style: Is your magazine sophisticated or playful? What is your niche? Is it focused on design, travel, gardening or pop culture? Since this magazine is focused on travel, we've opted to use nature-inspired greens and whites. You need to match the font, color scheme, and design with the feel of your magazine. Here, we use a modern-looking sans serif font with a teal banner underneath the title. Now our audience will know what to look for in future issues.

How to design a magazine

6. Write body articles

A magazine's articles are often its biggest draw. Decide whether you will draft all the pieces in-house, or whether you will rely on freelance authors or other outside contributors. Depending on the scope and size of your magazine, this process may take weeks or months. If a magazine is a college campus publication, there will be staff writers, editors, and requests for outside submissions. For a professionally produced magazine, the scope will be even wider. In Lucidpress, you can drag and drop content from Google Drive directly onto the canvas. Instead of sending drafts back and forth to various contributors, every designer and writer can comment and edit simultaneously in the magazine itself. This video shows how members of your team can collaborate in Lucidpress:


Lucidpress in 60 seconds on Vimeo.

7. Incorporate graphics

Just having a great cover image is not enough—your magazine needs to have interesting photos and graphics throughout. In a visual medium, you will draw your readers in by having high-quality images accompany your articles.

How to start a magazine

In Lucidpress, it's simple to import your images from third-party storage services. Just drag the image icon from the content bar onto the canvas. You will have the option to upload images from your computer, Flickr, Facebook, Dropbox or Google Search. In the template, the images are tied by the common theme of travel. Certain colors, like terra cotta tan, light sky blue and deep green, are featured prominently. Tying your images together by theme, color or style will give consistency to your layout.

How to make a magazine in 12 steps

8. Decide on feature articles

Decide on feature articles; besides the cover article, you should choose two or three articles to highlight on the cover. These should be articles of top interest to your readers. On this cover, we've emphasized Angkor Wat and the Coliseum. Page numbers help readers know where to turn to read more. In choosing your feature articles, ask yourself what the longest or best-researched articles in this edition are.

Make a magazine DIY

9. Place thumbnails

When placing thumbnails, make sure the images complement the background while still standing out. In the Lucidpress template, we've created a transparent banner to offset the feature article thumbnails. It's a white box set to 60% opacity. Additionally, we've placed a bar code and a URL to the magazine website. This helps readers know where to go for online articles and other web-exclusive content. You can use Lucidpress to build iPad-optimized magazines with embedded video and scrolling areas.

Make a magazine step by step

Make your own magazine

10. Create table of contents

Once you've assembled all of your articles and their accompanying images, build a table of contents. Lucidpress makes it easy to align elements on your page. In our table of contents on page 3 of the template, you can select multiple objects. Hold Shift and you can change the alignment, box color, text size and typeface of multiple elements at once.

11. Back page

Among wide-circulation magazines, the back page will often be a full-page advertisement. In Lucidpress, click the Add Page button to add a back cover to the template. You can add a blank page or choose from the pre-made page styles.

How to make a magazine in Lucidpress

12. Notes on printing

This template is designed for print magazines. There are several things to keep in mind if you print your magazine. Here are a few:

  • Paper quality — Magazines should be on glossy paper for the best image quality. Consult with a professional printer about the right weight and size for your project.
  • Layout — Because of the nature of magazines, you will need to double check to ensure that your pages will be laid out as expected.
  • Full-bleed — You can add a bleed to your document so there are no blank edges on your pages. A bleed is similar to a wider margin which is then trimmed in the printing process.

Magazines are entertaining, drive sales, and are fun to peruse both on paper and on screen. With Lucidpress as your magazine publishing and design software, you'll be excited about the results.

Whether your magazine takes you to far-off places or keeps you close to home, these free magazine templates are a great starting point.

Free magazine templates

Author Bio

Post contributed by Charly Kuecks