The English expression “do not judge a book by its cover” does not really fit for a magazine cover. The fit is more toward another English expression, “a good beginning is half the battle”. The cover design of a magazine is very important since people see the cover first before deciding to read the entire magazine.
For that reason, these five elements are required to be on the cover design of every magazine. Those elements are Masthead, Main Image, Lead Article, Supporting Cover Lines, and Issue and Dateline.
The most important element of a magazine cover is the masthead. The masthead functions as the title or the identity of a magazine, so it needs to be as clear as possible to be recognized easily by people.
Since it needs to stand out from other elements, the placement and the choice of the font of the masthead are important. The masthead can be placed right in the center of the cover. It also needs to be big and bold, and use appealing font style and color.
Sometimes, big magazines have their mastheads covered by the main image in some of their parts. It is not a problem since they already have their magazines’ specific and well-known identity. People can recognize what are those particular magazines by seeing the font styles, colors, or layout designs of the magazines.
No less crucial than the masthead, the main image is also very important for a magazine cover. The main image represents the magazine’s content, so the image is chosen based on the issue.
For example, if the issue of the magazine is about fashion, a photo of a well-known celebrity can be used for the main image. Moreover, if it is a custom car magazine, a photo of a beautifully modified car can be used instead. The image choice can be varied as long as it is visually pleasing to the eyes while also agreeing with the issue of the magazine.
The quality of the image needs to be as high as possible. It is better to use professional images for the main image. The main image is a big part of whether people want to see the content of the magazine or not.
The lead article tells people what the main issue of the magazine is. It is connected to the main image of the magazine. For example, if the main image is a photo of a celebrity, the lead article is usually about an interview with that particular celebrity.
It is better for the lead article on the magazine cover to be written in a contrasting font style with a bigger size to emphasize the issue of the magazine.
Supporting Cover Lines
The supporting cover lines show other additional topics in the magazine. The topics can have similar or totally different themes from the main issue. The lines need to be written effectively on the magazine cover with a normal font style and a smaller size so they do not mix up the main issue of the magazine.
Issue and Dateline
The issue and dateline section show the publication of the magazine. The issue number can be concluded with a complete time detail, date, month, and year, or just the month and the year depending on the publication. The price of the magazine can also be written in this section if necessary.
After including all five of the required elements, it is essential to pay attention to the design of the magazine cover itself. The layout design, color selection, font styles, and placement of the elements are as crucial as the elements themselves. The easiest way is by looking for some inspiration from the cover design of big magazines.