The Quest for the Perfect Cover
December 1, 2007

When a magazine’s cover “worked,” we can never determine for sure exactly what worked. Was it the photo? Was it the subject of the cover story? Was it the big type run in process yellow? Surveys can be taken, focus groups convened, but experience teaches that you can’t escape flying by the seat of your pants. That’s another way of saying that we depend on the editor’s gut feeling. I was one of the judges awarding “best cover” medals in an intramural competition at a publishing company large enough to warrant such an act. The company’s owner—who ought to know given his company’s output—told

7 Opinions About Coverlines
December 1, 2007

1. Designer: “None! They spoil the picture!”2. Publisher: “Lots! They sell the issue!”3. Editor: “Short and snappy, active verb, and you!”4. Circulation: “Amuse them with puns and weird fonts!”5. Ad Director: “Sell something readers care about!”6. Consultant guru: “Ideal number? As many as necessary!”7. Everybody: “Anyone know anything for sure? Nope.”

Behind’s 21st Century Makeover
October 19, 2007

With an emphasis on multimedia features and fresh content, Newsweek unveiled a new version of its Web site,, this week. The redesigned site coincides with design changes to the print publication as well. The redesign brings into the 21st century with additions such as 14 new blogs in various categories—from politics to parenting—and videos embedded on almost every page. One of these videos will be a weekly message to visitors from Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham. According to Editor Deidre Depke, the Web site—which averages about 7 million users per month—was redesigned “to encourage Newsweek subscribers to come

McGraw-Hill Overhauls BusinessWeek Magazine
October 12, 2007

The McGraw-Hill Companies announced yesterday a major makeover for BusinessWeek magazine that will result in an increased focus on global business news and less lifestyle coverage. The redesign centers around significant editorial and design changes that, according to Editor-in-Chief Steve Adler, will essentially amount to a relaunch of the title. “We’re proud of our 78-year history as the world’s leading business magazine. And we’re especially proud that BusinessWeek continues to grow and now exceeds 4.8 million readers each week. But we live in your world—one of intense time pressure, global competition, information overload and relentless challenge. And, like you, we can’t stand still,”

Personality Matters
June 1, 2007

Frenetic—that’s what publications have become. To stand out, everybody tries to eclipse the competition with fashionable exaggeration, bursts of color, weird patterns, eccentric type, extravagant visuals—all in a frantic attempt to startle, to be different, to be creative. As a result, everybody looks like everybody else, and instead of standing out, they disappear. How does one not fall prey to this disappearing act? Of course, content justifies our existence, but for now, let’s assume our content is perfect. Instead, let us concentrate on form, which is perhaps even more important than content in helping a publication find its audience. What is the use in assembling

Reader-Tailored Design
March 1, 2007

Saville Row, located in London, is where you go to order a suit made to measure and come out in sartorial splendor with a considerably lighter bank account. These world-famous tailors make “bespoke,” i.e., custom-ordered clothing. Should magazines be bespoke to their audience? When times are tough, should the publication’s look be mournful, with somber colors, larger type size, lots of slumping italics? Or should it pretend to be brave in the face of adversity, all cheerful in pink and sunny yellow? Or is dignified, neutral, quiet best? Does prettiness trigger first-glance attraction? Should a business-to-business pub ape consumer-style in order to engage readers more? No,

Design Expert on Challenges Facing Today’s Magazine Designers
January 26, 2007

Jan White is a nationally recognized expert in magazine design who has given more than 1,800 seminars in 27 countries on the relationship of layout and graphics to editing. He also writes the “Designed for Success” column in Publishing Executive magazine. His stated goal is “to persuade word-people to think visually and visual people to think verbally.” Inbox picked his “inventive”—don’t call it creative—mind about the evolution of magazine design and the challenges today’s designers face in a visual world. White will also be a featured speaker at the upcoming 2007 Publishing Executive Conference (March 5-7, New York’s Marriott Marquis), where he’ll explore the

How to Assesses Your Publication Design
June 1, 2006

Why do editors and art directors fight over design? Because each views it his own way. Management sees design another way still, and often underestimates its impact on a magazine’s success. Obviously, everyone wants the product—whether on paper or in electronic form—to look attractive and unique. It’s good for building loyalty, sales and recognition in ad agencies. The readers, however, don’t really give a darn about what it looks like, so long as it delivers what they need. Substance is what they pay for. If the design brings that substance to the casual viewer’s attention, it is fulfilling its highest function. If it helps

5 Tips for Making the Reader Care
June 1, 2006

1. Give them something to take away—simply, memorably, fast. It is like that crucial leave-behind after a sales call. (The stuff in the boxes in last month’s column). 2. Tempt them with irresistible bait in the headlines. Nobody can ignore or turn down self-interest. Stress the “what’s in it for me?” The magic word “you” has to lurk in there somehow, and it is even better if there is an active verb. Always ask “So what?” after reading a headline—and if the answer is a noncommittal shrug, it should be rewritten with more words. There is no advantage in short-and-snappy if it doesn’t motivate

Markzware Helps Quark XPress Users Import PageMaker Files
March 1, 2006

One-click instantly converts PageMaker files into QuarkXPress v6 Documents SANTA ANA, Calif. -- Markzware, developer of preflighting, data extraction, and conversion software, is pleased to announce the immediate availability of PM2Q6 (Adobe PageMaker to QuarkXPress). PM2Q6 is a QuarkXPress XTension module that easily and efficiently imports versions 4.2 - 7.x of Adobe PageMaker files into QuarkXPress 6 documents. PM2Q6 is available for Macintosh. "This simple, yet elegant solution that Markzware has developed further enables customers the freedom to migrate their data content," says Patrick Marchese, president of Markzware. "QuarkXPress is a popular publishing software application used by many service bureaus and printers. We are happy to