Even in this digital age that we live in, magazines are still in our stores in an abundance. Magazine size is fully dependant on the way it is printed. Let’s look at what is involved in a magazine makeup.
Magazines have page counts that are divisible by 16 or 8 because of the machines that are used in the print industry. All magazines must follow this page count.
If this is your first magazine layout there are a few rules that you need to follow for it to print correctly. It doesn’t matter if it’s a new glossy magazine or a school publication, the page layout is one of the most important aspects of the job as soon as you get started.
Laying out your Magazine
The one key rule to magazine layout is the page count. It doesn’t matter what program you are using, the number of overall pages must be divisible by 16 – 8 – 4. Many people flick through a magazine and never give a thought for how it was put together, and why would they right?
But if your page count doesn’t add up you’ll end up with blank pages and that’s not ideal!
The reason behind the 16 – 8 or 4 is because every page in a magazine is a joined to another and is also printed on both sides.
When you design your layout, you need to think about where each page is going to land. If you have designed a double page spread, they need to fall across two pages, an even on the left and an odd on the right.
And if you want a centre fold you need to place these when you have finished your layout, so they fall in the double page spread that is in the centre of your magazine. 48 page magazine, centre pages are 24 and 25.
I’ve been designing a long time, specifically magazines for about 15 years. In the old days (!!), it was important that pages followed a concept called Printers Pairs. The last page was paired with the first page and the second page with the second last page.
We used to have a trick with sheets of paper and number them all and then follow what page went with what. It certainly tested the old grey matter of a Monday morning!
Thankfully now InDesign and other publishing programmes allows for page spreads and you just add however many you need and print shops adjust your pages for you.
However! You still need the page count to follow the 16 – 8 – 4 rule. Your print shop is not going to correct this for you, and sometimes don’t even send you a proof, so it’s up to the designer to make sure it’s correct.
What Way should your Magazine be printed?
The way your magazine is laid out and the print run quantity, will determine what way your magazine will be printed. This then determines the 16 – 8 – 4. There a re a couple of options depending on your magazine:
- Off set Printing
- Digital Printing
- Home Printing
Let’s look at why you would choose each, relative to your page count and type of magazine.
Off Set Printing
Off Set Printing is traditional web printing. It is large rolls of paper using film, plates and four color wet ink. It is used for large quantity runs of magazines. It takes time to set this method of printing up and if you are not printing large quantities it becomes cost prohibitive.
This is the method that has taken the world by storm. It is high quality printing without the use of plates. Files are sent direct from computer to printer. It is much more cost efficient, even when printing magazines. It means you can choose your quantity without losing any quality. You still must be within the 16 – 8 – 4 page parameters.
This is the low print run, school magazine, wedding booklet level. You can print as many as you need but the quality is not as good and the time spent feeding paper will be an issue. Depending on the size of your printer page size, determines the amount of pages you can print in one pass through.
It certainly is a good way of learning how magazines go together but the cost of your printer ink if you are printing medium – large quantities is a big issue.
The last thing that affects the page count in your magazine is how you are going to bind it. Or put it together.
Large run, large page numbers (128+) are generally Perfect Bound. This means sections of 16 pages are glued together. So your magazine is made up of 8 sections of 16 pages each. These are then bound with printer glue. There are pro’s and cons to everything.
Perfect Binding tends not to last. The spine breaks because you must force the magazine to lie flat. But if the page count is high, it generally is the only solution.
Many magazines follow the 48 page rule. This means they can be saddle stitched. No hard spine, but two staples on the outside cover to the centrefold. Saddle stitching can work out more expensive, but it works out better for low page counts as all of the page can be viewed.
Cost of Your Magazine
Most magazines on the shelves of our stores have page counts of 48. This is the most cost effective way to produce a magazine. Magazines are seen as through away items. The print cost vs the retail cost has to be viable. 48 pages is a good number as it can be printed digitally, saddle stitched and have a medium print run. It has 3 full 16 page sections, so you get the best value for money with your print shop, with no wastage.
So ideally, if your magazine is being produced professionally, by a print shop, should have an optimum page number of 48. If it is less, ie 32 (two full 16 pages) you can then add your cover on a heavier stock as a four page document.
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