View Full Version : How to Study a Magazine

12-05-2008, 08:40 AM
I recently started a job in a corporate communications department. I write articles for a weekly newsletter and quarterly magazine.

As part of my professional development, my supervisor assigned a task of reading at least one magazine a week, and really studying/noting various things about it.

She quickly rattled off a lot of examples - but now I'm a bit anxious because I can't remember some of the things she suggested I study. I don't want to ask her & look like I wasn't listening... so I'm hoping you can help me.

Some of the things she recommended I study are pull quotes, headlines, breakouts, layout & design, editorial content, writing styles, etc.

The only suggestions I can find on the web are for analyzing content for freelancing.

Though this is an assignment to help me learn more about magazines for my job (and probably because she wants to redesign the corporate mag & it will be mostly the 2 of us)... I do feel it is a good learning activity for me & could help me understand the magazine industry better for my freelancing (which has been on hold for a year now).

I did some freelance writing for a local magazine published by the local newspaper & that editor was very laid back & understood I'd never written for a magazine before. That mag isn't in publication anymore & the editors job was cut.

Sorry so long.

Any information, advice, links, etc would be greatly appreciated. I want to really shine in this job!


Ms Hollands
12-05-2008, 02:06 PM
Sounds like the list of things she recommended that you remember is a good start.

Obviously, headlines have to be snappy to pull the reader in. Gossipy magazines have great examples of stuff that aren't really what the story is about. I read one the other day about Madonna crying all the time, as a direct quote from her, but when I read the story, it was totally out of context to the actual quote. But it made me read the article.

Pull quotes, the same really. See why they're snappy and how you can apply them to your own content if you decide to use them.

Layout and design is biiiiig. I'm sure there's plenty on the web (google 'layout' or 'magazine layout' etc.), but the things that niggle me as unprofessional if I'm reading a publication are blurry photos, poorly-placed captions, and photos facing the wrong way (I like to see faces facing into the publication, not away from it).

You need to pick your own writing style. Perhaps she's wanting you to pull together a style guide from your notes. Where do you stand on numbers spelt out vs. written? 1-10 spelt or 1-100? What audience are you writing for? Your style guide should reflect that.

There is so much more I could prattle on with, but hopefully that's a good enough start for you to feel less lost and launch into some research with a bit more of an idea.

Good luck with it!

12-05-2008, 06:56 PM
I also recommend studying the advertising a magazine uses -- that can be a huge clue about its audience. There is a big difference between writing for readers likely to buy luxury condos and designer watches versus those more likely to buy household cleaning products and discount offers.

01-22-2009, 06:42 AM
Thank you! This is a great thread. I hope it continues expanding.

01-22-2009, 11:12 AM
As Mayntz said. Adverts. They tell you the age, financial status and interests of the readers.