Magazine layout and design

Constant refinement in publication design

Usually, there’s more room for design improvement in publication design than to brand development. Brand designers deliberately avoid leaving any room for future refinements. The philosophy behind this approach is that the guideline should be infallible. It should think instead of the graphic production artist two continents away. It should leave nothing to guess (and imagination). That’s why the amount of boringness of a brand is in direct relation with the volume and variations of its presentation.

 

In branding, finding the best method to apply the guidelines to various situations and mediums is the designer’s target. When working on a publication, except for some broad guidelines, there’s no limit to creativity. Usually, the guidelines are not that rigid in the first place. Visual and the literary style guides are always evolving and open to interpretations based on the context. That’s why they are the source of many challenges between editors, authors, and graphic designers.

Magazine layout and design

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In the realm of print, instead of trying to apply a set of rules to various physical forms, the designer is working on a single well-defined medium. A sheet of paper has proportions that may change about every 100 years. So, focus on creativity and constant refinements is the goal.

I’m not suggesting designers can’t be creative when working on brand development. But there’s always a possibility that their efforts become dismissed by the public. All their harmonisations efforts can be seen as trying to make things uniform.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr's article in B2B Magazine

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The question of brand development is how you to harmonise the message across the media. This is in direct contrast to publication design, which has a well-defined medium. A medium that lets designer focus on layout and the meaning instead of odd dimensions, materials, and proportions.

In theory, there’s no limit to the refinement of every element of a printed publication. Photography, from the art to technique, post production and prepress, has a limitless capacity to improve.

Typography, both as in playing by the rules and not playing by them, has an unlimited capacity for exploration, too.

Back to the magazine, in this issue (#120) of B2B Magazine, I’ve tried to refine several technical and visual aspects of the design. Table of content generation is automatic and articles are hyperlinks in PDF form. Also, some important hyperlinks in pages are active. Typography is more uniform, stylesheets are cleaner and better defined. All the photos are converted to FOGRA 39 and not left to conversion by Raster Image Processor. Most of the pictures are 350 dpi and sharpened for print in the last step. Every editable file is kept as PSD and no lossy compression is involved. Also, nearly all the visual elements of the magazine adhere to a baseline grid to improve readability and beauty.

As I said, there’s an immense space for constant refinements and I hope I can do more in upcoming print cycles. After all, print, no matter being a dying art or not, is a very beautiful one.

Kasra Yousefi

My name is Kasra Yousefi. I’m a graphic designer, teacher and photographer, living in Canberra, ACT.

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