Learn the Jargon that Designers Use

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Designers have various terms and jargon that go with the profession. Here are just a few of the commonly used terms and their definitions.

architecture: Underlying structure of a page.

asymmetry: Disproportion; lack of symmetry.

bleed: Type or imagery that extends beyond the trim edge of a page.

byline: Author’s credit line.

CMYK values: CMYK refers to the four-color printing process inks. C=cyan, M=magenta, Y=yellow, and K=black. CMYK values refers to the combination of percentages of each color. For example, true red is 100% magenta and 100% yellow.

color palette: The selection of colors or hues that will be used exclusively or regularly in the magazine.

contrast: The relative difference between elements on a page or spread. May refer to tonality, color, texture, or size.

corner splash: A triangle of color in the upper right or bottom right of the cover containing special editorial content.

design parameters: The self-imposed boundaries of the design to ensure the integrity of the style and personality of the magazine, such as a limited range of typefaces and colors.

display text: Refers to headlines or other text intended to draw the reader into the article.

eyebrow line: Short, pithy blurbs which give readers a quick look at a magazine’s content; mostly placed above the name plate.

focal point: The primary and specific area within a composition or design to which attention is drawn.

format: General appearance or style of a publication including its size, shape, paper quality, typeface and binding.

grid: A measuring guide used by designers to help ensure consistency.  The grid shows type widths, picture areas, trim sizes, margins, etc.

gutter: The inside margin where two pages of a publication join.

hierarchy: Relative importance of objects on a page.

house sheet: Paper a printer keeps in stock and buys in large quantity.

limited palette: The self-imposed restrictions on choices for design elements such as typefaces and colors.

master pages: In Quark Xpress, InDesign, or any page layout program, master pages serve in a similar capacity as templates. Users can create master pages for frequently used elements such as folios, text columns, and ruled borders. More complex master pages may be created for departments and features. Then, the user can drag and drop them into documents without having to recreate the repeating elements.

negative space: The empty space created on a page by the placement of type and imagery. Awareness and use of this element is an important, but often overlooked, design consideration.

rivers: Streaks of white spacing in the text, produced accidentally when spaces in consecutive lines of type coincide.

screen: Uniform crisscross lines which break an image into a pattern of dots which, in turn, simulate gradations of gray.

second color: When using only black and another color in printing, this refers to the other color.

sidebar: A short article related to the main article and placed next to it.

standing head: A headline used in every issue with a regular column or department.

symmetry: Similarity of form or arrangement on either side of the dividing line of a plane; correspondence of opposite parts in size, shape, and position.

teasers: Another way to refer to pull-quotes—any piece of text pulled from an article to highlight some main point or to draw readers in. They are often quotes, but may be any piece of compelling editorial.

utilities (referring to the magazine cover): UPC codes and address labels placed on the cover, which require special design attention to ensure the necessary space is available.

well: Refers to the section in a magazine containing the feature articles.

Purchase one of our manuals that cover writing, design, management, and editing. Each manual contains an extensive glossary of terms.

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It’s Christmas in July! As you plan ahead and look at what the rest of the year holds for your magazine, consider how to ask for gift subscriptions. Christmas is often a good time to solicit gift subscriptions.

There are multiple ways you can do this:
  • A package insert is a card or brochure enclosed in a package sent to potential customers. Often, package inserts are enclosed in packages mailed by book publishers. However, some fliers are inserted in a clear plastic bag inside the mailer containing the subscribers magazine.
  • Gift subscription renewals must be handled differently from normal subscriptions. Publishers normally notify the donor first. If there is no response, they may then notify the gift subscription recipient.
  • Issue wraps are a second cover on a magazine. They are not usually put on magazines to be displayed for single-copy sale. However, they are sometimes used on magazines mailed to subscribers. They provide extra protection for the cover, and serve as a tool to advertise special offers to subscribers, to welcome new subscribers, or to announce subscription expiration.
  • Many magazines have traditionally relied on direct mail solicitations as a primary means of building circulation. These may take a variety of forms.
  • Blow-in cards are inserted in magazines either by hand or by a machine which “blows” them into the magazines. Publishers may sell these cards to advertisers or use them to advertise their own magazine. They are one of the most effective methods of gaining new subscribers.

See samples of Christmas-related solicitations.

digital advertising
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By D. Eadward Tree, Publishing Executive

Fraud. Ad blockers. Mobilegeddon. Slow page loading. Low ad rates. Let’s face it: Digital advertising, which was supposed to rescue us from the decline of print, has run into a mess of problems this year on the way to saviorhood.

We magazine publishers have competitive advantages in dealing with these challenges, if we pay attention to our history and what we’ve learned from the print side of our business. After all, our industry has had a couple of centuries of trial-and-error with print advertising to find solutions to the same challenges that now bedevil the digital side of the house.

Here are few relevant lessons:

They Hate You; They Really Hate You

A recent Hubspot study found that the ads consumers hate the most by far are pop-ups and mobile phone ads, while magazine ads are the least objectionable. Hatred is rarely the beginning of a beautiful customer relationship.

Over the decades, magazine publishers have figured out ways to put advertising messages in front of readers without annoying them—and sometimes delighting them. Maybe that’s why the same publisher that’s happy to get a $2.50 CPM for programmatic ads wouldn’t dream of charging less than a $60 CPM for a print page. (Unfortunately, our mobile page views are booming while our print page views are shrinking.)

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By Eric Shanfelt, Publishing Executive

As media companies, we pride ourselves on building long-term content relationships with our readers. Our audiences are the lifeblood of our businesses driving advertising, subscription, event, lead generation, and other revenues.

But despite our reliance on our audiences, we often struggle at developing them. It seems increasingly difficult for us to get more email subscribers, build print and digital subscriptions, drive event registration, and create more leads for advertisers.

Why? Because most media companies are actually lousy at audience development.

Our first mistake is that we don’t realize that the number one job of our website is audience development, not content delivery or monetization. Think about it … an average visit is only 2-3 pageviews. That doesn’t equate to much revenue.

If somehow, someone finds our website through a search, social share, or link, doesn’t it make sense that our number one priority — before monetization — should be to entice them to give us their email address? Now we have an actual relationship that we can use over and over again to drive repeat traffic as well as reader and advertiser-side revenue.

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article planning
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In order to help an editorial team come up with article ideas, many editors use an article planning worksheet. It is a great tool to use during team planning meetings.

Get started with this article planning worksheet. Adapt the questions to the kind of articles you are looking for, and give this sheet to your staff members to help them prepare for planning meetings.
Tips for a successful planning meeting:
  • Ask your staff to prepare for the meeting and give them plenty of advance notice—at least one month.
  • Give them a list of questions to answer (see Article Planning Sheet). Or, have them ask questions of people they know who are similar to your readers.
  • Get away from the office. Hold your planning meeting in a conference room in a hotel. Or meet in someone’s home, or a local church, or even go to a park. It is important to get everyone away from ringing phones and the pressures of immediate responsibilities. A new environment promotes creative thinking.
  • Consider going on a field trip. Take the staff to a bookstore, a library, or a newsstand for one hour. Ask them to write down 10 ideas that could be adapted for your magazine.
  • Ask the staff to pray ahead of time for God’s wisdom, guidance, and creative ideas in the meeting.

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The United States has more than 20,000 printing businesses. When it comes to producing magazines, you can probably ignore at least 98% of those.

Lots of printers can print magazines. But most magazine publishers need a printer that can do more than print.

Magazine publishers usually ask their printers to receive, process, and store page files from a variety of sources, including ad agencies that increasingly don’t know how to create a print-ready PDF. We need them to bind a variety of cards, cover wraps, and inserts that are supplied by other printers, then to print addresses onto some copies but not onto others.

Printers presort our subscriber files, keep us in compliance with postal regulations, manage the shipment of some copies to far-flung places, and put others into storage for future use.

Tip #1: Choose a publication printer, not a printer that happens to produce publications.

Unless you publish the simplest of magazines—with no externally produced ads, no mailed copies, no versions, and only local distribution—you probably need a printer with real expertise and deep experience with our industry.

Some publication printers specialize in producing magazines and catalogs. Others serve a more diversified set of industries, but have plants, employees, and equipment dedicated to and optimized for publications. In any case, you don’t want a printer who has to learn the magazine business from you; you want one that has worked with enough publishers to understand your needs and to offer new ideas.

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Check out our sample printer questionnaire.

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Your magazine is a friend to your readers. They like its personality, they know its moods and what to expect. Would you like a friend who looked and acted differently every time you saw her? While readers appreciate freshness, the content inside needs to be consistent with the message and fit your ministry’s purpose. Articles should be evaluated on more than just how appropriate or well written they are. They need to have the right fit and feel to your readers.

So how do you decide if an article fits?

Well, first you schedule a fitting.


Imagine a tailor holding a measuring tape across your shoulders. Now hold a “measuring tape” to the article and consider:

  1. “Does the article help fulfill your mission?”
    • What is the purpose of the article? What is the writer trying to accomplish?
    • Is the writer’s purpose compatible with your mission statement?
  2. “Is this topic important to your readers?”
    • Is it appropriate for their age and lifestyle?
    • Does it speak to something they deal with in their daily lives?
    • Does it answer a question they are asking?
  3. “Does the approach fit your magazine?”
    • Is it the type of article you publish? (Is it first person, interview, new story, essay. etc.)
    • Does the writing style and tone fit you? Is it personal enough? Too personal? Does it quote too many Bible verses, or not enough?
  4. “Is it fresh?”
    • Have you seen lots of other articles similar to this? Have your readers? If so, why publish it?
  5. “Do you agree with what the article is saying?”
    • Doctrine?
    • Author’s main conclusions?
  6. “Is there a clear benefit for the reader?”
    • Does the writer seem focused on serving the reader, or their own agenda?

If the answer to any of the above questions is “no,” then the article doesn’t fit. The article might be well written and perfect for another publication, but if the measurement is not right, this is an article you should not publish.

If you can answer with a confident “yes,” then publish the article and relish your latest wardrobe addition. You need to fulfill the mission God gave you for your magazine, and not every article will fulfill that mission. So discard the articles that don’t, and treasure the ones that do.

How do you evaluate articles? Which of the six questions above is most important? We’d love to hear what you think.

fake news
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Of course not! We would never do that, you say. Possibly not, if fake news is defined as flagrantly false stories that you know are fiction, but that you present as true. But if your magazine is typical, at some time you have printed a story that you assumed was true, but that actually was not.

There was the Internet story about birth defects that women were convinced were the result of fallout from bombing in a nearby country. Difficult to check out; after all, there was no research on the topic. But the women’s story was dramatic and you wanted to use it.

Perhaps it was a feature that a writer gave you at the last minute when you were on a deadline and didn’t have time to check the writer’s information. Or maybe–horrors!–you never check the “facts” that appear in your publication. If you don’t, you are not alone. In today’s fast-paced news cycle editors at most big newspapers no longer check every spelling, statistic, attribution, date, or detail of the articles that pass through their hands.

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The answer is: It’s both. But how can that be? You might argue that the Scripture says we cannot serve both God and money (Matt. 6:24). So how can you possibly treat your magazine as both a ministry and a business? Perhaps it is time to redefine the word “business.”

Because business is often associated with greed, Christians don’t want to connect their publishing ministry with business. We are not “selling” the gospel, so we should not make a profit, they say. However, the Scripture also teaches us to plan wisely (Prov. 15:22), measure the cost (Luke 14:28), and be good stewards of the talents God has given us (Matt. 25:14-28).

The business community can teach us how to better manage the resources at our disposal. Business principles including managing people, accounting, strategy, research, production, and distribution are not contrary to Scripture. When we use these tools with a heart to serve God faithfully and efficiently, we can operate Christian magazines according to business principles without hindering the ministry taking place between the pages.

Managing your magazine using business principles means you can avoid the pitfalls of trial and error. Instead of randomly trying to distribute your magazine to a new audience, you can use the principle of research to find out ahead of time if that audience is ready for your publication. Rather than hoping you have enough money to pay the printer, you can use accounting and cash flow projections to know if you will have enough funds to meet that responsibility.

Typically, Christian magazines don’t fail because of poor motivations or intentions. Most commonly, they fail due to lack of funding. Even if you have a completely volunteer staff, operate out of your home, and can somehow manage to avoid other basic expenses, the printer still must be paid. The fact is you need money to cover your expenses. Knowing what those expenses are and planning for how they will be covered does not make you greedy. It makes you a wise steward.

Does using business principles mean you don’t have faith in God? It doesn’t have to. As Believers, we seek God for wisdom in our decisions. We look at our expense reports and ask God to help us meet those obligations. If you can’t sell subscriptions, perhaps God will lead you to donors who can provide the funds you need. Or, you can sell advertisements to other Christians who would like your audience to know about their product or service. Using these tools does not mean you don’t seek God for wisdom and provision.

You wouldn’t attempt to build a building without the proper tools and the money to pay for it. Operating your magazine using business principles simply means you are using the tools available to you to be a good steward of the resources and responsibility God has given you.

For additional resources on management, login to MTI Online for free videos, on-demand webinars, and e-books.

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By Adam Tinsworth, One Man & His Blog

During one of my lecturing sessions at City, University of London last week, I made the point that just because you’re most associated with digital, doesn’t mean you don’t – and can’t – love print, too.

That’s certainly the case for me. My first love was print, and two decades ago, my major goal was to be a print magazine editor by the time I was 30 (a goal I only missed by a year or so). There’s no doubt that the advent and growth of the web has changed how I perceive print. More than that, it’s changed how I consume print. About 10 years ago, print started a precipitous decline in my life, one that was only hastened by the iPad and the Kindle.

It’s rare that I pick up a printed book or newspaper these days. But I’m buying more magazines than I ever have – they’re just better and more expensive.

In that sense, I’m an addict. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is my dealer:


The Magculture shop seen above sits just down the road from City – which, in its journalism department, probably has one of the greatest concentrations of print enthusiasts left in the country. And it’s chock full of the sort of magazines I actually like. Big. Thick. Printed on good quality stock. Limited adverts. Superb design. Sticker shock prices.

Here’s my theory about the long-term future of print: it’s going to turn into theatre.

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