Lesson Plan: Magazine Cover Design

Magazine Cover Design

Submitted by: Renee Berg Mitchell Middle School

Grade Level: 6th through 8th


Magazine Cover


Magazine publishers, editors, and circulation directors know the importance of the cover image as both a newsstand impulse buy and as a brand. 80 percent of consumer magazines’ newsstand sales are determined by what is shown on the cover, a fact that can mean the difference between a magazine’s success or failure over time.  The cover image and design reinforce the brand, an important identification factor because the average reader spends only three to five seconds scanning a magazine cover before deciding whether to buy that issue. Magazine covers not only offer information about what’s inside a particular issue, they also provide significant cultural cues about social, political, economic, and medical trends.  As both historical artifacts and marketing tools, magazine covers deserve closer study.



Designed by Jeff White for Art Tech class

Your Job


You need to design a magazine cover using Adobe PhotoShop Elements (Available at the Adobe Education Store). Your magazine cover can be based off of an existing magazine, for example use the layout and name of Teen magazine, but design your own photos, titles and story lines, or create your own magazine totally from scratch, around an interest you have. For example, create a magazine based on Rats, Shopping, a Boy/Girls Life in Middle School, or Fossils, etc.


You must have:

  1. A background

  2. A cover photo (may have smaller photos to show other features included in the magazine)

  3. A Title

  4. Several story line titles

  5. Issue date

  6. Issue price

Your magazine cover will be graded on if you included the above elements and how you carry out Unity in your magazine cover.


_____Unity can be achieved by carrying out a common theme in the type styles, photos, story titles and descriptions. Do all the parts work together?


_____Think about readability, can you read the type against the background? Is the type style readable? Are the sentences too long? Are the titles descriptive enough to make you know what the article is about? Does the type size signify the importance?


_____Does the photo or photos support the theme? Does the photo catch your eye? Is it too busy or too simple?


_____How is your effort and craftsmanship? You will need to be selecting, cutting, pasting and cropping. Does your cover look professionally neat?


_____Layout, how did you arrange all the elements? Is the type all lined up flush left, right, centered? Is the type over the picture or a background?  Did you add a banner with the issue date,  web site, and cost? Does the layout make it easy to read or confusing?


Student Magazine Cover Design from Alix Peshette

From Alix: I have a magazine cover project I did with one of my computer arts classes that turned out just great. The basis of the lesson is typography, font families and font analysis. The kids select a real magazine publication and then replicate the cover and fonts with themselves on the cover and teasers about them or their favorite subjects. Some of the covers came out looking totally real! The only problem is that I have to alter the kids' faces and names on the covers to protect them if I want to show the examples (faces have been blurred and names removed):


sample sample


Below left: Magazine design by Janine Gleason of Liberty University.


magazine cover

Internet Resources:

(from Judy) I couldn't find any direct links for magazine layout design - but did find these lesson plans that might be helpful. I found LOTS of interesting magazine covers though (they will come up when you do a search).

Here is some vocabulary for you: masthead (title), typesetting/typography, layout, nameplate/logo, bleed (illustration goes edge to edge).

Lesson Plan "Digital Art: Future Magazine" (Archive) - has links that might be helpful

"Gotcha Covered: Magazine Cover Design"- pdf lesson
Has some terminology (but not the different parts of the cover)

Found on a cached page (no longer online):

The four cover elements:
Photo/Art/Illustration, Blurbs/teasers (cover lines), Nameplate and Folio
(includes price if for sale)

A good cover needs to accomplish four things:

1. Identify the personality of the magazine.
2. Attract the target audience
3. Lure the reader into the magazine
4. Establish a visual identity (consistent use of format)





Layout Workbook: A Real-World Guide to Building Pages in Graphic Design - The book illuminates the broad category of layout, communicating specifically what it takes to design with excellence. It also addresses the how and why of the creative process.


The 10 Influential Creators for Magazine Design. - What is magazine design? What are magazine designers and art directors thinking, and in which directions are they heading? Armed with those simple questions, the author visited ten prominent magazine art directors who have been influential in the world of magazine design.


Designing Magazines. - How does a designer create graphic solutions to the behind-the-scenes editorial challenges at a magazine? Designing Magazines is the complete guide to understanding the inner workings of magazines and their day-to-day management--and a great guide to using that knowledge to create visually stunning, editorially effective magazines.



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