Analysing how food magazines convey content

One of the areas of Graphic Design that I particularly enjoy is Editorial Design as I like using grids and structure to position text and image and am specifically interested in how as a designer you are able to create/ improve someone’s reading experience and make information more engaging to interact with or easier to take in and remember.

I decided to design a cover and a selection of inside pages for a magazine based around food containing recipes and articles about food as a project in my free time. This work will be displayed in my next blog post.

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“Olive” magazine cover

To start my process, I began exploring how existing food magazines and recipe books layout their content to convey information. I wanted to see the relationship between text and image and the balance between these elements.

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Magazine spread analysis
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Magazine spread analysis

I analysed “Olive” magazine and looked at the ways that they had combined the use of text and image. Often, on many of the recipe pages it featured a large image which can be commonly found among print with the theme of food as food is a very visual thing which is very appetising and appealing to our eye. Using a high intensity of photography or imagery of food can be very persuasive in getting people to try recipes or to be more excited or interested in reading a passage of text if it is linked with the image.

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Wrapping text around the shapes in photography

On many of the recipe pages, the designer had made the photography fill the full spread where the photographer had captured the dishes with the tableware. The designer had utilised these rounded shapes of the plates and bowls and the straight edges of trays and napkins and organised the type to fit around and be obstructed by the shapes. This created a more playful feel to the page and accentuates the shaping and imagery on the spread. The round shapes create discontinuity on the pages which is different to the straight columns of text. This allows the piece to become more “friendly” looking and is unexpected and exciting.

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Using three columns for sections of text

The magazine often makes use of three columns of text which creates consistency and adds to its visual language. Columns are sometimes reinforced by the use of images above which creates a neat and structured layout to look professional and be easy to follow. Splitting text up into sections breaks up the content into manageable bites of information which are more likely to be remembered and also more likely to be read. It makes the text less overwhelming.

(Above) shows how titles are in decorative typefaces

Headings are often style with handmade or decorative type which is representative of the theme of home cooked food and becomes creative and fun. This would encourage the eye to be drawn to the title which is important as you would want the title to stand out as it is at the top of the hierarchy. This is what could entice the reader to continue searching through the other content on the page.

Folios were on the edges of the page which create a more dynamic layout to encourage the reader to turn the page and progress through the book.

The written structure of the text is organised in the same way which makes the content easy to follow. Making the reading experience easier for the user is the key aim for editorial design as helping the reader take in the content will make them more likely to want to interact with the book. Today, when people interact with information, there is a limited amount of time to communicate to your audience so content needs to be engaging and seem worthwhile. Therefore, it is very important to consider how your content is displayed as well as the content itself.

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Spread to analyse (use of vibrant yellow)

On this particular spread, the designer has made use of bright yellow which is able to add vibrancy to make the page fun and engaging. Yellow arrows are added which direct the eye towards content and also highlights which pieces of text relate to certain images. Headings use outlined text which is less impactful than if the designer had used solid black. There is already lots of impact from the yellow so the solid black may have been too strong and therefore have created too much confusion. The images are placed up to the bleed which spreads out the content and keeps the page looking less condensed as there is quite a bit of content on the spread. The images use a similar colour scheme of red/ orange/ brown to remain balanced. It is more cohesive and relaxing on the eye as it does not confuse the reader with too many things going on in one place.

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