Purpose of a Front Cover
Essentially, the front cover functions to
entice readers to buy a magazine.
Although the reader will spend a fraction
of the time they read the magazine
focusing on the front, they may not pick it
up in the first place unless the front cover
is well designed.
The front cover is made up of a number of
important features. These are common
conventions of magazines. For you to
create your own magazine, you must
understand how these conventions
function and what their purpose is.
This is the name of the magazine and is almost always
displayed at the top. Why do you think that is?
The font style and colour will have been chosen extremely
carefully to help sell the magazine, as well as give some
indication about the content and audience
Similarly, the name of the magazine will be carefully chosen.
Why is the name important?
What can you say about the
mastheads on these magazines?
This goes near the masthead, and is
sometimes attached to it. It shows what
the magazine is about or who it might be
This is one of the most important parts of the
front cover as it catches a reader’s eye before
they look at the printed text. The central image
will be relevant to the magazine’s purpose and
audience, and will often be strongly related to
the feature article.
In front-cover analysis, much can be said about
the central image. So much can be denoted and
connoted from this image.
The Cover Model
For many magazines, a cover model will be used. This
may be a celebrity, or well-known individual connected
with the magazine’s genre (e.g. a rock star posing for a
music magazine); or it may be a photographic model.
Consider the implications of this. What difference might
it make to the magazine’s selling power?
Think about the mise-en-scene. Why is the model
dressed in a certain way, or lit in a certain way? How
are they posed? What is the connotation of this? Is the
model’s pose seductive? Intimidating? Why are they
wearing those specific clothes?
This is a term
that refers to how images
are referred to. In magazines, images will
be anchored by captions (directly
explaining what the pictures depict), by
coverlines, or by articles and headlines.
Anchoring an image helps give it meaning,
as it helps the reader understand the
They may be used on the front cover to
help promote other features in the
magazine, usually anchored by a
They are often used in magazines where
reader’s need to be enticed by the picture
rather than the coverline text (e.g.
These are located at various points on the
front cover, telling readers about the
magazine’s contents – and specifically,
the articles they’ll find.
The front cover often features 6-12
coverlines in an attempt to lure different
readers to different things.
Coverlines will often use language and
presentational devices to be most effective
Mode of Address
Mode of Address refers to the way that
magazines communicate with their readers.
Some magazines will use a direct mode of
address, communicating with individual readers.
This might be through use of the cover model
(e.g. pointing directly at the camera), or through
the use of 2nd person pronouns (“you”).
What kinds of magazines do you think would
favour a direct mode, and which would favour an
As in “puff of air”, this is a device which
helps to draw attention to and promote
certain elements in the magazine. They
are often set against colourful
backgrounds and are shaped – e.g.
rounded. Quite often they advertise a
“freebie” or a special feature in the
Pugs are the “ears” of a magazine and are
placed at the top left or right-hand corners
of a front cover. They usually display a
promotion from that magazine’s edition, or
possibly the price.
Barcode, Price, Edition, website…
Straightforward features, but they need to
be strategically placed. The barcode
shouldn’t distort any of the cover’s
principal features, and the price will
usually be displayed nearby.
How the edition is phrased will depend on
the frequency of publication. Most
magazines are monthly editions, and so
the month and year will be displayed.
Use of Colour
Colour: this is used to great effect. Some
magazines will alter all the colour schemes from
edition to edition (masthead, coverline fonts,
etc), while others will alter some colours to
coordinate with the central image.
Think about signifier/signified where colour is in
question. Ask yourselves whether the magazine
is using colour to send a message, or whether
colour has been manipulated to help accentuate
a certain feature of the cover image.
Front covers will display a variety of font
choices, usually adapted to infer meaning
to the text they’re displaying.
Think about how font choices are
manipulated for both mastheads and
A particular slide catching your eye?
Clipping is a handy way to collect important slides you want to go back to later.