What is Editorial Design?–The Issuu Guide

By January 3, 2020Editorial

What is Editorial Design?

Editorial design is the process of creating an appealing text layout. At Issuu, our natural focus is magazine design. However, much of what we discuss is relevant for eBooks or pamphlets as well. Let’s start with a breakdown of design theory as established by the highly renowned Stanford d.school. You will find that editorial design has a lot more going on than just choosing a color palette.

A framework for effective design

Any design starts with data. For us, this means looking into the demographics of our “ideal” reader. It also means pulling sources and contributors who are reputable and reliable. Our obligation as as content producers is to sort through misinformation and present a cohesive story.

Which leads into the next layer of editorial design: technology. So, this includes factors such as SEO (search engine optimization), linking, platform algorithms, programs like InDesign, and analytics. Another great example is Issuu’s AMP integration–which takes your editorial design to the larger Internet. Many people think the design process stops at the product, the 3rd level, but this is not true. Product encompasses form and function. Whether the format is digital and/or print. Ask yourself questions like: is there intention behind each piece of my magazine? what is the lifecycle of my product? For example, online integrations allow you to extend the lifecycle of a single issue with evergreen content and AMP stories.

The fourth level is experiences. How does your design influence the formation of moments and feelings. Are you using your publication as a way to throw events? or a retail hub? How will your editorial design match up with these other iterations of your business. Which leads into systems. Do your aesthetic fit within the culture of Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, etc.? Are you transforming long-form content into Visual Stories? Where do you embed your pdf reader? Lastly, consider the implications of your design. Create responsibly, credit your contributors, and fact check. A simple decision to place one section before another can have dramatic impact on how a reader interprets your work [1].

Technical editorial design tips

The next section tackles the following question: how are you designing simultaneously for the reader, contributor, and yourself? First, pick an editorial theme. Then you can choose a direction: minimal or maximal. Depending on your goals, theme, and personal style this is important. Minimal design has large photos and clean lines. Maximal, on the other hand, includes many photos and colors, and heavy text.

More: 5 tips to cleaner editorial design

Now those macro-level decisions have been established let’s look at some of the finer details of editorial design. Be sure to establish a color palette with contrast. Don’t forget about the power of illustration, not every story can be represented with photography. Particularly in the case of fictional subjects or contributors interested in protecting their identity [2]. Also, bear in mind typography. Typography is the design of typefaces and fonts themselves. Experts suggest picking two fonts, one for headings and another for paragraphs as a start.

Finally, think about how a reader interacts with your publication. Create a fluid composition by thinking in spreads not pages. If you think page by page the reading experience feels blocky. Another way professional designers accomplish this is with the rule of 3rds. Divide the spread, the two pages visible when a reader has your magazine open, into 9 equal parts. Where these lines intersect drive where you place items on the pages [2].

What next?

So maybe you want to start designing your own magazine. The above guide is a comprehensive start for the novice editorial designer. However, you can deepen your understanding with online courses such as this one from LinkedIn taught by respected designer John McWade. Or, check out our toolkit for digital publishing below.

Intersted in becoming an editorial designer? Start a portfolio!

Issuu has the perfect solution for showcasing your editorial design masterpieces. Embed your growing portfolio today with our full-screen reader. You can also take advantage of our free magazine templates. Find the editorial solutions to fit your goals.

Where will you take editorial design in 2020? Share with us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter and the comments below.

[1] This is design work

[2] The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Editorial Design

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