New layout for Magazine

Hello all. Hope you are having a great start to 2024.

I have been working for a moto cross magazine for about 3-4 years now. This year we want make the magazine layout cleaner and more modern. We are changing format and paper.

I would like to use a sans serif font (body), for a more modern feel. It is a quite text heavy magazine so might be just a big NO? Or do you have any suggestions of legible sans serifs? Or perhaps a modern serif font.

I’m looking for good grids to use and just overall good alpha around magazine design, I want to deepen my knowledge. But have been looking for more advanced guides courses and haven’t really found anything. So everything is of interest.

All the best, Micke

You might start with reading a lot of magazines, including those of different subjects. Take note of what inspires you and what does not, and why.

As a rule, if one knows what one wants to do will make one get there faster.

The two situations seem to contradict each other. 3-4 years working on the same project should provide you with enough insight.

Yeah I do believe that I have a fair understanding of what I want to achieve. Im trying to scan the internet of as much inspiration as I can. 4500+ pints on pinterest and that is only one of many places I look for inspiration.

The question about the sans serif font was more of a question about legibility. I know serif fonts are to prefer in print if there is lengthy text. But seen more and more people going with sans serifs.

If I were you, I’d lean more toward a neutral serif face for body text (Minion, maybe), then use a contrasting sans serif that consisted of a wide range of aggressive weights for headlines, subheads, cutlines, drop caps, credit lines, and all the other typography that wasn’t body copy.

Any chance of sharing a few spreads from the existing magazine here?

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I took over the design when I started there. I have done as much as I could to tidy everything. Had no structure when I started at all. All over the place.

But now there is a new owner of the magazine (younger guy). And we have the same vision a cleaner more elegant and airy magazine. We are changing the entire structure this year. The paper and dimension of the magazine. And I told him that I probably need more pages to work with.

You’re right; it’s awfully text-heavy.

Back in my early 20s, I owned a two-stroke YZ 450 that I would race. I wasn’t very good, but I had lots of fun — mostly x-country instead of motocross. Since then, I’ve limited my bikes to sport and touring models.

I can’t read a word of Swedish, and my views are based on my U.S. experience with motorcycle racers, which might not apply to Sweden. If I were the publisher, I’d shift the editorial direction a bit and shorten most of the articles with the goal of freeing up space for more dynamic layouts. The “Get on the Gas” ad, for example, is dynamic and exciting, but the editorial layouts look more serious — more like a visually conservative news magazine than a publication aimed at the adrenalin-fueled world of motorcycle racing.

Of course, you probably don’t control the editorial content and need to work with what you have. If that’s the case, there are still things you can do.

For one thing, I’d lose the justified columns of type and replace them with flush left, ragged right. I would also shorten the headlines and make them more visually and verbally aggressive. I’d also switch the headlines to upper and lower case instead of all caps. Instead of the long headlines, I’d rely more on smaller subheads to better explain the articles while adding a little visual spice to the layouts. Pull-out quotes might also help. If possible, I would try to identify several important articles in each issue with good photos to create a few visually exciting and dynamic spreads to add some visual interest to the magazine.

Then again, I probably don’t understand the magazine’s target audience, the purpose, and the history of the magazine. or the nuances of Swedish motorcycle racing. The closest I’ve come is riding a friend’s old 1972 Swedish-built Husqvarna 250cc 2-stroke motocross bike as a teenager (it was loud, belched black smoke, and I loved riding it). Anyway, there is certainly more than one way to liven up the magazine a bit while keeping the essence of what it’s supposed to be.