How to Design a Magazine Cover

By Penny Warnock


Magazine covers are our conversation starters. Whether on the stands or your screen, a magazine cover is how we entice readers to get to know us further and dive into your content. They’re your first impression on your reader, and we all know how important a first impression is. Crafting an exceptional magazine cover that gives the right first impression is no easy feat. 

In this blog, you'll learn how to craft a stunning magazine cover; we’ll unravel the secrets that transform a plain cover into an eye-catching one, setting the stage for an exciting reader experience.

So, let’s briefly talk about the significance of magazine covers.


The significance of magazine covers

In the current world of information overload, a decent, well-designed magazine cover is more important than ever. If you’re designing a printed magazine, your cover must compete with X amount of others in the stands. If you’re designing a digital magazine, your magazine competes with the entire internet. That’s a lot of competition. Your cover has to stand out and make an impression, which any designer will tell you isn't always a walk in the park. It's a delicate dance, ensuring the correct elements pop without feeling cluttered on the page. 

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What makes a successful magazine cover? 

Depending on your goal, you can define your metric or sign of success, but a successful magazine cover is one that gets the page turned. 

So, what's the secret sauce that makes a magazine cover turn heads? It happens to be a blend of art, science, psychology, and a big pinch of storytelling. 

Off the bat, it's about choosing the right visual element that teases your audience. It's got to be captivating but not overwhelming. Typography is your voice—telling a story of its own. And then, there's the color palette, which is like the mood lighting for your visual narrative. It's about selecting hues that match your content and resonate with your audience's emotions. 

Together, these elements harmonize, creating a visual symphony that draws the reader in, making them eager to dive into your magazine.

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Five guidelines for creating magazine covers that stand out

Now, let's unravel the secrets to designing magazine covers that grab attention and leave a lasting imprint on your audience. Here are five fundamental guidelines to elevate your magazine cover game, ensuring it stands out and entices your readers.


1. Create captivating visuals:

When creating a captivating magazine cover, your visual element should be the star of the show. The visual should captivate and enthrall, whether it's a powerful photograph, intriguing illustration, or clever composition. It should represent the essence of your content and create an immediate connection with your target audience. Check out this example from AIDA Cruises, which uses breathtaking media to inspire travel-hungry people to visit the Nordics in the winter.

AIDA Cruises
Check out the example here.


2. Use strategic typography:

Typography isn't just about the fonts you choose; it's about how you use them. Your typography should be clear, legible, and harmonious with the overall design. It should guide the reader's eyes and effectively convey the magazine's tone and message. Take a look at this example below from Knight Frank; their typography is clear, minimalist, yet inviting. Knight Frank


3. Infuse color harmony:

Color is a language of its own. It sets the mood, evokes emotions, and conveys a message. Choose a color palette that resonates with your content, aligns with your brand, and appeals to your audience. Harmonize colors in a way that creates visual balance and interest. 

For example, this online magazine from Trilux expertly balances monochrome palettes contrasted with the electric blue element. By leveraging a web-based publication platform, you can easily enhance reader engagement with dynamic design elements, captivating multimedia, and seamless interactivity that keeps readers hooked and hungry for more.

4. Try going minimalist, but with impact:

Less is often more, especially in the case of magazine covers. Embrace a minimalist approach that highlights the most essential elements. Avoid clutter and let each element breathe, making a powerful and concise statement that grabs attention instantly.

VolvoRead the magazine.


5. Always ensure consistency and branding:

Your magazine cover should reflect your brand identity. Maintain a cohesive design language across all your covers to establish brand recognition. Consistency in color schemes, fonts, and style will ensure that your magazine becomes easily identifiable to your readers. Check out this digital magazine example from Leeds Trinity University.

Leeds Trinity University

Leveraging interactive magazine covers

The above guidelines are useful for both digital and print magazine covers. However, your audience is likely consuming content both online and in person. No doubt, a significant portion of your target audience will prefer a digital magazine they can access anywhere, on any device, rather than a lengthy printed document or, even worse, a PDF magazine.

If you want to capture your audiences’ attention, wherever they are, it’s important to embrace an interactive format, such as Foleon, for creating your online magazine. Interactive formats like Foleon allow you to infuse your cover with dynamic elements, like animations, videos, and clickable links, creating a more engaging experience for readers. 

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Expertly designed templates for an outstanding magazine cover

Leveraging templates is a great way to create an on-brand and effective magazine cover. Templates are a great way to ensure you’re following the best practices mentioned above, saving you both valuable time and energy. If you opt for a solution like Foleon, you can use our comprehensive template library or create custom templates specific to your online magazine. 

Created by our expert designers, these templates provide a framework to help you ensure a clear visual hierarchy, optimize typography, and effectively use space to grab attention and convey your brand's story. Plus, once you have these templates saved, anyone can easily customize them for the next issue! Using templates to create your online magazine cover is a great way to scale your content strategy going forward.

Read: How to Use Design Templates and Still Be Creative 



Designing a compelling magazine cover in print or online involves a delicate balance of captivating visuals, strategic typography, harmonious color choices, and consistency with your brand identity. Depending on the purpose of your magazine, your cover should effectively entice and resonate with your target audience, guiding them toward the stories that matter while embracing storytelling elements. 

By leveraging an interactive content platform like Foleon, you can create engaging digital magazine covers that your audience can access from any device, anywhere. The handy templates are a great way to stay on brand, follow best practices, and scale your content production. By incorporating these guidelines into your magazine cover design process, you'll create visually stunning covers that captivate your audience.

Penny Warnock

Penny Warnock is the Content Marketer extraordinaire here at Foleon. With a background in SaaS, product marketing, journalism, and brand building, Penny is passionate about storytelling and generating engaging content across various digital channels.

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