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Designing Magazine Features for Advertising

Tue, Oct 3, 2006

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Magazine feature pages contain items that are grouped in the same subject and displayed together. This may include an article, cialis ads and photos on “where to travel in Australia”, to a group of modular ads for the latest art galleries, touted as an “advertising feature”.

Breaking or non-breaking space?

Broken spaces are an editorial style – an image is linked to text (eg, with an arrow pointing at the image) and is placed aesthetically on a page with other elements that may or may not be similar in appearance. The advantage of broken space is that it allows advertising to appear as editorial “hand picked” articles or “snippets”.

Non-breaking space refers to when a whole section is devoted to the feature and is therefore booked as a whole space within the publication. Non-breaking spaces can contain as little as one big ad, or can be made up of “modules” where the advertising is presented similarly for each client.

Modular template design

In order to sell a modular feature to clients, it is customary to design a template or “mockup” so that they can see what their module is going to look like. The amount of modules on the page is usually determined by the publication due to the need to make a certain profit out of each page, while allowing for some space in design and filler modules (in case the last few modules don’t sell).

A good template includes:

* The amount of words the client will be able to have in their ad, including name, address, phone number and other contact details
* The size and client specifications for logos and images
* An attractive design that combines all modules together on the page

This template can be emailed in the form of a PDF flyer to clients to show them an example of what they can do with their module.

Effective modular layouts

There are hundreds of different ways to layout feature pages, but a good layout is one that doesn’t require too much fiddling to fit in what the client wants. This means that the good layouts often include spare space in the module (even just a few lines) to allow for fussy clients who won’t take no for an answer. Good layouts also have square image spaces instead of vertical or horizontal ones – this means all of your client images will fit well.

Additional design tips include:

* The use of Wingdings and Glyphs to add fine detail to the design
* Using quotes or key words in the background to emphasise the feature subject
* An eyecatching heading that states the feature name (eg., High Street, Ballarat)
* Simple use of colour and elements can be much more effective than complicated image montages

The key aspect of designing modular layouts is to make the modules stand out a lot more than the background. Busy backgrounds are not conducive to selling the advertising. The only exception to this is an eyecatching heading or picture bar introducing the feature.

Re-using Feature Layouts

The beauty of good feature layouts is that they can be recycled. It’s possible to have regular, monthly features where the subject is the same and the clients are different (eg., think of a “Galleries” feature), to ones where the subject is different each month, but laid out the same way and promoted generally (eg., think of a “Travel” feature covering a different state each month). Change a few colours and voila! your new feature layout is easily designed.

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