Research Overview

I looked at some of the magazine resources that were in Moodle to get an idea of the sort of magazines that  were out there, I found it difficult to find some of the magazines such as Toast and Now Then in an actual magazine format on their website, it seemed like they’d just put the information on the website and that it wasn’t available to read as a magazine so I went into Sheffield to look for some of the magazines. The idea of this was to get an overview on what magazines were already out there, what style the cover was, what did the magazine talk about and what artist twist they used to do this.


Review is a magazine produced by Sheffield Hallam University, from what I can gather they produce 2 magazines a year one at the beginning of the year Autumn/Winter and the second in Spring, but they may also produce one in Summer. Below are the Autumn/Winter issue and the Spring Issue.

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The paper stock of Review was one that I really liked because it looked stylish whilst being practical, it was a fairly thick matte stock which I though made it appear stylised, as opposed to another magazine of a newsagents self, and it was thick enough so it didn’t rip easily, however not too thick which would make the magazine more bulky.

Review was a great magazine to look at because it is aimed at students so it was useful to see what topics they looked at and whether they chooses to use students for the article topics, the difference with this magazine to the one that I am producing is that this one has no advertising in it. The majority of the articles in these magazines are linked to the University, this is a great idea as Universities are so vast that you rarely get to know about every success story and this helps inform people however I don’t think this approach would work for college students. College students aren’t as highly educated as University students and aren’t normally the same age either, in my opinion these differences are why this approach would be less successful, students aged 16 and above tend to find their interests in music, films, concerts etc. although the occasional college success story might interest some and spur them on I don’t think a magazine full of this would catch much attention from the majority of students. This magazine is aimed at the more educated reader as the articles are well written, in a formal standard and the topics included (aside from the ones linked to the university) are news articles debating what the future of public sector employees. However when you read the Spring issue there is a different tone to it, the articles are still of a high standard but the topics seem a little less student focused, there’s a page about the famous game ‘flappy bird’, The Tour de France is mentioned and Sheffield Food Festival is written about. To me the second issue will appeal to a wider range of students, this approach is more similar to the one I would pick, I would choose to write about events that are coming up that could be of interest, or maybe a phase that everyone has heard about such as flappy bird, a TV show, a genre of music.

Looking specifically at the design of these magazines they do look incredibly professional and the paper stock used adds to this. There is an obvious corporate style and similarity on where the header and sub title sit on every page, unfortunately I think this is too professional for a student magazine, for this magazine I think it matches the content but for the magazine I want to produce I was the design to captivate students. Few people read a magazine cover to cover, instead they flick through until they see a topic they like or a design catches their eye, if the pages of my magazine were this corporate and had little diversity I don’t think a lot of college students would give it a chance, I know I would struggle to. However I do need to be aware of remaining some design consistency so that the same template can easily be used for the next issue of the article. I like how this magazine does’t just use one type of media, it uses graphical art, illustration and photography, this makes it a lot more interesting for the reader and is definitely something that I want to make sure I take advantage of.


I haven’t photographed all the pages of this magazine as there is also a website. Toast isn’t specifically a student magazine although from the design and content I would say it is aimed at students and young adults who have an interest in music, festivals and concerts.

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The paper stock of this magazine seemed pretty normal, it was a fairly thick gloss which is typical of what the majority of mainstream magazines use. I think this worked effectively for a magazine with this content because the people who read it would be a similar audience to those reading mainstream magazines; in that they don’t really care much for the design of the magazine, they are more bothered about the content.

I really liked how this magazine was set up, there was a consistency in certain areas of the magazine, for example their articles were all laid out in the same style, so were all their ‘Compete’ pages, events pages and so on, however all the special feature interview pages were completely original. This shows what parts they want you to focus on, it makes it so clear where the interview starts and finishes and really draws you in. I like this approach and I think it’s something I’d like to adopt, I could design all the special feature pages in a specific way but then remain consistency with other pages. The style of this magazine was very informal with articles written with causal language, I prefer this writing style to the ‘Review’ writing style as I think that college students with understand the language a lot more and not feel that reading the magazine is a chore but actually something they enjoy doing. Advertising won’t be successful unless the readers relate to it in a positive way.

Cosmo on Campus

This magazine stems from Cosmopolitan, a female gossip/fashion magazine, Cosmo on Campus is a free student magazine with the same style as Cosmopolitan put for a student target market specifically.

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This was made of a very thin matte paper stock that made it seem cheap…but it was free so I can’t really say that was a negative thing!

Obviously the first major problem with this is that it is specifically aimed at a female market and my magazine will be aimed at both boys and girls but it’s useful to look at the design and what topics they choose to talk about. I found the design of this magazine incredibly inconsistent, it seems to switch between 4 column and 3 column, every page is different whether that means it having photos in a different place or a coloured tab added to the side of it. Some of the header fonts are used more than one throughout the magazine but equally some of them are completely random. This does make the magazine interesting but it also means that every page jumps out at you so there doesn’t really seem to be much focus on what the most important pages are. This magazine is extremely informal and looks at the topics of fashion, jobs, food etc. I think these topics are great for students because a lot of students can feel the constraints of money as they get older and cheap fashion options always appeal to this age group, the focuses of this magazine are fashion, beauty and gossip, there are pages that address issues that may not be appropriate if the magazine is run by the college! This magazine is also different from the others I have discussed because it is national so it’s not looking at Sheffield specifically, therefore it doesn’t mention events or gigs like the others do and which is something that I’d like to include.

Now Then

This is a magazine that focuses specifically on supporting art, trade and citizen journalism in Sheffield and Manchester. I didn’t photograph every page as it has a website.

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This was the nicest paper stock that I saw, it was a thick matte coat, if I could chose a paper stock for my magazine it would be this one, the fact that it was matte made the magazine different, you knew it wasn’t main stream, the thickness of the paper stock made the magazine seem like one of quality.

I absolutely love the design of this magazine! It’s so sleek and has a great consistency to it; most pages are 4 column, articles tend to have a block banner with the title in, whilst event pages have a block of colour down one side of the page, some of the pages are slightly different but there is such a obvious theme throughout. I think there needs to be this theme throughout my magazine, where not every page is the same but you can tell that they all ‘go’ together. This is very minimal and stylish design and as I said I really like it, however I don’t think that this design will appeal to college students as much as for example the toast design would, the topics included would probably be the same.


Exposed is a magazine that looks specifically at entertainment in Sheffield. I couldn’t manage to find Exposed magazine so I’ve given the online magazine link below.

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This was made out of a paper stock that was fairly standard, it was a similar paper thickness to the average magazine however it didn’t have a gloss cover like most other magazines.

I think the front cover of this is a similar style to Toast and Cosmo on Campus, they’re all very commercial. They look similar to the magazine covers that you would see in a newsagent, big title of magazine at the top of the page, photo of a celebrity and then a title that would attract the attention of a reader. The advantage of this is that if it looks like a professional magazine people are possibly drawn to it more because it looks like something they would buy, the cover is packed with information and so it makes the reader feel like there are lots of interesting articles inside the magazine, the photo of the celebrity immediately attracts people as it makes them want to know why that celebrity is on the cover. However the disadvantage of this is that not everyone likes the celebrity on the front cover, if the magazine was just to have an interesting design for the front cover it might make people look inside and see all the articles that are on offer, another disadvantage is that if this magazine looks similar to others people can just become immune to it, they think it’s just another gossip magazine and therefore don’t give any attention to it. Therefore in my magazine I want to have an original front cover that doesn’t look similar to other magazines, that follows a ‘different’ structure, for example like the Now Then cover.

In terms of the content of the magazine, there is a consistency throughout, on every page there is a black line running along the header of every page. The font used for the Exposed title is used throughout the magazine for headers and subtitles, however it is in different sizes and colours. There is also consistency in different sections of the magazine, for example there is a section of the magazine dedicated to reviews, this is about 8 pages long and it all shares the same design throughout these pages, I like this because it makes it obvious to the reader where the article starts and finishes.

However even saying this I found it difficult sometimes when flicking through to know the difference between an article and an advert, this highlights just how important it is to have visual consistency throughout, I don’t think the line across the top is enough to inform the reader that this is in fact an article, I think there needed to be something else, maybe a header or side title on every page.

Another similarity that I noticed between Exposed and Toast is that their interview pages have a completely different style to the remaining pages in the magazine, as I mentioned earlier, I think this is very effective and would like to carry this forward into my design.


This is a free magazine that I found whilst I was visiting Hull, I thought this magazine was posed to a different market to all of the other magazines that I’d researched. This magazine looked at a more arty spectrum of topics such as Art, Culture, Photography, I loved the photography in this magazine, however the paper stock felt low quality, it felt like newspaper however it was a bit too thin.

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In my opinion there didn’t seem to be much consistency throughout this magazine, the photography could be argued to be of a similar style, however not all of the photography was consistency one style of colour theme, the only thing that really stood out to me as consistent was that the articles always used 2 columns, there didn’t seem much variation on this. The photographs are cropped different sizes, some with a border and others full bleed so this is another aspect that isn’t consistent. I quite liked the look of the page with the black background and then black and white photo, I also like how some of the photos are in black and white and others full colour. My favourite photos is the one of the skateboarder in the middle of the circular ramp, I love how it works so well with the page and it’d be good if I could get photography like this.

In Conclusion

Therefore I have come to the conclusion that I want my magazine to be inspired by ‘Now Then’ and also ‘Toast’. I love the consistency and sleek design of Now Then but I think it need to be a little more experimental and interesting if it is to reach younger people. I’m not as keen on the overall design of Toast as I feel it’s too similar to commercial magazines that already exist, in my opinion it cannot even compete with the style of Now Then but equally I don’t think it’s meant to, the target market is different and Toast is aimed at students and young adults. I like the topics discussed in Toast and I’d like to follow through the idea of having the interview page as a special unique design.

In terms of photography I want to take photos that are inspired by the style of ‘Frayed’, it’s urban and individual and I love how this style of photographs is maintained throughout, however I would want to keep some consistency with the cropping of the image, whether this means keeping a border all the way around all of the images or deciding that they’ll all be full bleed.


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