Designing a magazine layout - terminology (2024)

We love magazines. We love both designing and reading them. Admiring clever layouts and bold choices. And even though we strongly believe online magazines are the future, there’s nothing better than the smell of a freshly printed copy of your favourite magazine. Ok, perhaps the smell of freshly baked croissants. Yeah, that’s probably better.

Magazine terminology

There’s no denying online magazines find their origins in their paper counterparts and they share a lot of the same layout design rules, the same methods to spruce up your page and the same terminology. For this list we’ve focussed on the ‘old school’ paper magazines terms.

Glossary of our top 25 magazine layout terms and definitions

Whether you want to have a proper discussion with other designers, google the solution to layout issues you’re encountering or look really smart when selling your magazine design to your customer, it helps to know the proper layout design terms. We’ve put together a comprehensive list of the terms you’ll probably want to know.

Ok, technically It might not be a top 25 when you put them in alphabetical order instead of ranking them…

1. Adobe

Forget the mud bricks; we're talking about the software giant that's the bread and butter of every designer's toolkit. Adobe gives you the creative freedom to make your magazine layout go from "meh" to "marvelous."

2. Baseline

Think of it as the tightrope your text walks on. It's the invisible line that keeps your letters from tumbling into the design abyss. A well-managed baseline is the unsung hero of a clean layout.

3. Binding

Ah, the spine of the operation. Literally. It's what holds your magazine together, so choose wisely. Whether it's saddle-stitched or perfect-bound, your binding choice is the backbone of your publication.

4. Bleed

No, it's not a horror movie. In the design world, bleed is the extra space that allows your images to stretch to the edge of the paper. It's like the runway for your visuals, ensuring a smooth landing into the final print.

5. Body text

This is where the meat of your content lives. It's the paragraphs that tell the story, the details that fill in the blanks. Make it readable, make it engaging, but for heaven's sake, don't make it Comic Sans.


The Fab Four of the printing world: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). These are the ink maestros that mix and mingle to bring your magazine's colors to life. Forget RGB; CMYK is where the print magic happens.

7. Column

Think of it as the backbone of your page layout. Columns give structure to your content, like the lanes on a highway, guiding your reader's eyes where you want them to go.

8. Copy

No, we're not talking about a duplicate. In design lingo, 'copy' refers to the text content that fills your pages. It's the words that sell, tell, and compel.

9. Crop marks

These are your cut-here guidelines. They tell the printer where to trim the paper, ensuring that your design fits just right, like a tailored suit.

10. Foldout

The grand reveal! A foldout is an extended page that unfolds to display a larger image or additional content. It's like a pop-up book for adults.

11. Gutter

This isn't where rainwater goes. In magazine layout, the gutter is the space between columns or pages. It's the breathing room that keeps your text from feeling claustrophobic.

12. Kerning

The art of letter-spacing. Kerning adjusts the space between individual characters, making sure your text doesn't look too crowded or too lonely.

13. Layout

The grand stage where all your design elements come to play. Layout is the arrangement of text, images, and other goodies that make your magazine a visual feast.

14. Pantone (PMS) colors

The VIP lounge of colors. Pantone provides a universal language for colors, ensuring that your chosen hues look the same everywhere, every time.

15. Pixel images

These are the digital mosaics made up of tiny dots called pixels. Great for photos, but zoom in too much, and you'll enter a pixelated nightmare.

16. Prepress

The final pit stop before printing. Prepress is where you double-check everything, from color accuracy to layout dimensions. It's your last chance to catch any oopsies.

17. Registration marks

These are the bullseyes for your printer, ensuring that all colors line up perfectly. Miss the mark, and you'll end up with a design disaster.

18. Resolution

This isn't a New Year's promise. In design, resolution refers to the quality of your images. The higher the resolution, the crisper the image.

19. Slug

No, it's not a garden pest. In printing, a slug is an area outside the page content where you can add notes for the printer.

20. Spread

This is a two-page layout treated as a single design unit. It's where your content can stretch its legs and take up more visual real estate.

21. Table of contents

The roadmap of your magazine. It tells your readers where to find what, like a GPS for content

22. Trim

This is where the edges get snipped to make sure your magazine fits its final size. It's like a haircut for your publication.

23. Typography

The art of text. Typography is all about choosing the right fonts, sizes, and spacing to make your content readable and aesthetically pleasing.

24. Vector images

These are the chameleons of the design world. Vector images can be resized without losing quality, making them perfect for logos and illustrations.

25. White space

The unsung hero of design. White space is the empty area that gives your content room to breathe. It's not wasted space; it's breathing room.

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Designing a magazine layout - terminology (2024)


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