Magazines can be a challenge for any designer, budding or professional. Managing a large amount of content while maintaining a stylish, high-end look can be tricky.

Luckily, we’ve put together five top tips for elevating your magazine designs and making sure they look as stylish as they are informative.


 1. Wrap Text Around Images in Unusual Ways


Feeling uninspired by the boxy limitations of a traditional text frame? Wrap text around images in unusual ways to create layouts that are less grid-like and more free-flowing. This is a great technique for better integrating photography with text to create a unified look.

Look for photos with plenty of white space to make this style work; and strong, simple outlines are easier to work with than complex or detailed ones.

Get to grips with the text wrap function in InDesign with this quick tutorial.

magazine layout design tips indesign improve text wrap

Design: Harper’s Bazaar US


 2. Take a Bird’s Eye View 


Make a drastic change to the angle of your photos for instant interest. Aerial shots are on-trend and utterly absorbing—they work particularly well for food and drinks titles, but travel and photo-journalism titles will also benefit from an aerial shot of a sweeping city view.

Aerial shots allow you to merge typography into the photo seamlessly—try filling those gaps with unusual headers and chunks of body text for an eclectic, creative style.

magazine layout design tips indesign improve aerialmagazine layout design tips indesign improve aerial

Design: Hieu Nguyen for Aww Food

See how the aerial trend is reaching new heights in the world of book cover design too.

magazine layout design tips indesign improve aerialDesign: New York Times Magazine

magazine layout design tips indesign improve aerialmagazine layout design tips indesign improve aerial

Design: Caetano Calomino for Gloss Magazine


3. Go 3D (Psst! It’s easier than you think!)


Create multiple layers of text and images to build up a 3D look on your 2D layouts. Cut away the subject of a photo from the background and use this tried-and-tested layers formula to create a 3D look that jumps out of the page.

In InDesign, expand the Layers panel (Window > Layers) and create a series of layers in this order: Background of Photo, Text Behind, Subject of Photo, and, finally, Text in Front at the top of the pile. Splitting up your content in this way will help you to achieve the 3D look used in these Harper’s Bazaar UK layouts.

magazine layout design tips indesign improve 3d fashion harper's bazaar uk

It’s a surprisingly simple technique to make your layouts appear instantly more vibrant and energetic. This tutorial shows you how to create a cool 3D look on your magazine designs using a simple frame and the Scissors Tool in InDesign.

magazine layout design tips indesign improve 3d fashion harper's bazaar ukmagazine layout design tips indesign improve 3d fashion harper's bazaar ukDesign: Harper’s Bazaar UK


4. Give Your Contents Page a Makeover


The cover might be the reason why someone initially picks your magazine off the shelf, but the contents page is the real anchor for the whole publication. The reader’s first port of call before they even get to articles and features, the contents page is an opportunity to create a style master for the rest of the magazine’s layouts, and it’s the perfect place to exercise some creativity too.

After all, nobody wants to read a long, dull list—introduce images, color, interesting typography and an unusual grid to give your contents page some life. You won’t regret spending the time perfecting this all-important spread.

magazine layout design tips indesign contents pagemagazine layout design tips indesign contents page

Design: Matt Chase

magazine layout design tips indesign contents page

Design: James Kape

magazine layout design tips indesign contents page

Design: Aidan Stonehouse


5. Go Big or Go Home


The opening spread of an inside feature is crying out for big, bold typography. It makes a great pairing with dramatic photography, and choice of typeface and color can really set the mood for the whole feature.

Try an elegant sans serif like Didot for Vogue-esque appeal, or pick a rounded sans serif like in this example to make your layouts feel fun, childlike and bursting with energy.

magazine layout design tips indesign bold big typographymagazine layout design tips indesign bold big typographymagazine layout design tips indesign bold big typography

Design: Matt Chase

Theme your typography around the subject of the article, and don’t be afraid to make it as bold, brash and loud as possible. It’s a sure-fire way to keep your readers engaged.

magazine layout design tips indesign bold big typography

Design: Matt Chase

magazine layout design tips indesign bold big typography

Design: Matt Chase


Discover even more pro tips for improving your magazine layouts in an instant, or teach yourself magazine design basics with our two-part magazine design tutorial