Free Magazine Cover Templates – Word | PDF | Illustrator

When creating a magazine, you must use the essential journalism tools of interviews, research, and proper article writing. The idea is to ensure your customers, usually; a national audience is interested in reading it. That means you need to include an in-depth analysis of issues and trends that your customers can relate to it for it to sell. 

Apart from being an information source, magazines are also meant for entertainment. Therefore, you need to understand its anatomy so that you can prepare one that is loved by your audience. There are main components and other essential details that you must include in it when creating it. Even with that in mind, your focus should also be on the magazine cover.

Your magazine’s great, beautiful, relatable, and powerful content might not reach your intended audience if the cover is not appealing. Since the cover is the first thing a customer will spot when they want to buy it, you need to create an attractive and intriguing cover that will capture their interest.

Creating a magazine is not all about the content. Its success also lies in how you design it entirely, especially the cover. This article will teach you how to create a proper magazine by identifying all the elements you need to include. Also, you will learn the step-by-step process of creating it and how beneficial it is to use a template.

Cover Templates

Creating a magazine, especially a cover, can make the process easier by using a template. With a template, your creation process becomes more accessible, faster, and smoother. In addition, templates provide you with a guide on which design will suit your magazine better. Also you will not have much work to do regarding customization and formatting.

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    What is a Magazine?

    A magazine is a periodical publication issued at regular intervals of weekly, fortnight, bi-monthly, monthly, or quarterly.

    These exist in both print and online. It usually contains articles, photographs, feature stories, and advertisements. It has a smaller page size as compared to that of a newspaper. Different people usually buy these since they are interested in a particular topic. Apart from online and print versions, this publication can also be a program on radio or television. Hosts discuss the topics, events, and people mentioned in it during a designated period.

    Distribution of the magazine

    Regarding the distribution, publishers distribute them through mail, online, bookstores, newsstands, and vendors. Online readership has dramatically increased, meaning you need to adapt to the change to appeal to new audiences.

    What are the Main Elements of a Cover?

    When it comes to selling a magazine, your cover will determine if people buy it or not. That means that you need to design the cover in a way that ensures your magazine stands out from the rest.

    Here are the main elements you should include when creating it to ensure your cover is appealing to your audience:


    Ensure that you start with the masthead. The masthead is also known as the title of the magazine. You must create a masthead representing your brand to ensure your audience can easily spot it from afar. The masthead should be written using the largest font size and must be placed on the top side. The colors should, however, match the theme or the image you want to use.

    Magazine deck

    The deck is the second element of a magazine. It describes the central philosophy, such as health and fitness, beauty and fashion, etc. The deck is not found in all magazines, but if included, it should be short, concise, and straight to the point.

    The dateline is usually written in small fonts and appears just above the masthead. It is the month, year, and issue number. You can also include the price of your publication in this section. Since magazine publishing frequency varies, ensure you include a dateline that matches your frequency. For monthly magazines, you can use the month and year, for example, March 2022

    For quarterly ones, you can include the season and the year, for example, ‘Winter, 2022.’

    Magazine issue

    A magazine issue is a number that displays its volume and issue. The volume is the number of years your magazine has been in circulation, while the issue is the number of times it has been published.


    If your magazine has been in circulation for 15 years and is a monthly magazine meant to be published on 26th June 2022, the magazine issue will be Volume 15, Issue 6.

    Main image

    The main image is usually a photograph, drawing, or illustration you choose to use on the cover. It should follow the magazine’s main story and art direction. Ensure that your main image is high quality and is taken from memorable photo shoots or commissioned illustrators. It should also be unique and conceptual to appeal to a larger audience. Your audience will be attracted to quality, clean and detailed images.

    Also, your image must be visually strong with clear communication about what it represents. Since you want your main image to stand out, ensure your background is not busy but helps the reader focus on the image.

    Another critical factor that you should consider when picking out the main image is emotional connection. Your audience is likely to buy it if the image speaks to them on an emotional level. You can achieve this by using portrait images that seem to maintain an eye-contact with the reader.

    Lead article line

    The central theme usually determines the lead article line. To ensure that your readers can easily spot this lead article line, use a font and color that is different from the rest of the text on the cover. However, ensure that the font matches the main theme. Also, ensure that the line complements the image on the cover.

    Supporting cover lines

    Apart from the lead article line, you need to include the supporting cover lines. This is to ensure your cover attains a perfect balance. The cover lines should be in a smaller font than the lead article line. These cover lines can also follow the theme, a topic to be discussed, or even a person being interviewed. Ensure your cover lines are concise with about ten words.

    Including a website link on your cover is also essential. This way, customers know where to find it online on your website or social media. This will also help expand your viewership and readership, increasing sales.

    Bar code

    The final element you must include is the barcode. The printing house usually includes the bar codes, meaning you must create space for them on the cover. The bar codes are usually inserted at the bottom-left corner alongside the price. Note that if the price is not mentioned with the issue number, then you can mention it here.

    11 Steps of Creating Magazine

    Ensure that it is visually appealing, interesting to read, and full of articles meant for both entertainment and information. The only way to capture your audience’s attention is by creating your magazine using the following steps:

    Pick your topic

    The first step that you need to take is to pick a topic. Focus on the area of your expertise and what your audience wants to know. This way, you will engage and interest more people in reading it. Ensure that your topic is unique, precise, and unifies all the feature articles you intend to include. Common topics you can choose include music, film, travel, current events, fashion, health and fitness, recreation, sports, gardening, and interior decoration.

    Create a title

    After selecting your topic, proceed to create a title. The title must be catchy, brief, and straight to the point. Also, it must represent your brand, whether online or via print.

    Choose the cover article

    With the title in mind, choose the cover article that should play the most significant role in exciting people to read it. This means that the content and design of this cover article should be intentional.


    If your magazine is about health, your cover title can be an interview with a professional discussing the new Corona variants.

    In addition, your cover title subject should be current and relatable to many, as this will increase readership.

    Find your cover image

    The cover must be compelling enough to grab a reader’s interest. To achieve this, you need to find the perfect cover image. The images should be placed at the top and center of the page so they can easily capture one’s eye. When fitting your cover image, use the rule of thirds to achieve this effect.

    Ensure you use a high-quality image suitable for both print and online publication. Also, your cover image should complement its topic and have pleasing colors. Finally, let your cover image engage the interest of a potential reader.

    Design your masthead

    After determining your cover image, proceed to design your masthead. Keep in mind that the title also represents your brand. Use a proper typeface such as Sans Serif fonts. Ensure that you maintain the same typeface for each one you produce; this way, your brand remains consistent.

    Next, design your masthead based on the cover image to ensure things like color and font properly contrast or complement the cover image. Your masthead can be in front or behind the image cover based on its style, niche, and focus.

    Write body articles

    The biggest attraction is its articles. That means you should not forget to include the article in the body section. You can access articles by drafting them in-house, accessing them from freelancers, or depending on outside contributors. The scope and size will determine the number of articles you will need and how long you will take to prepare them.

    Incorporate graphics

    Incorporating graphics, images, photographs, and illustrations is vital. Ensure that you choose visually appealing graphics that have an exciting feel to draw in your readers. Also, these images and photographs must be of high quality and should complement your articles.

    Select feature articles

    A magazine is usually composed of various feature articles. You need to choose two or three best-researched feature articles highlighted on the cover as supporting cover lines. These articles should be exciting and intriguing to the readers. You can also add page numbers alongside those articles to ensure readers know where to find them.

    Place thumbnails

    At this point, it is essential to place thumbnails. Ensure that the images you use complement the background but still pop out amazingly. In addition, the bar code and the URL should be placed on the thumbnails. This way, readers can easily access your online magazine.

    Create a table of content

    It is essential to include a table of contents. This will enable your readers to easily and quickly access any image, story, or photographs they need. Ensure that you have aligned your elements so that the right content appears on the right page, making it easy for you to build a table of contents.

    Back page

    The final step is creating the back page. Your back page is often meant for full-page advertisement. Ensure that you leave enough space on the back page to include your intended advertisement easily.  

    Things to Consider

    There are tips that you should always have in mind. Some of these things that you must consider are the following:

    Printing guide

    When you have completed the creation process and want to print your magazine, always consider the quality of the paper, the layout, and the full bleed. They require glossy paper for you to achieve good-quality images. Ensure that the paper you pick has the right weight and size for you to print your work.

    For the layout, ensure that you print it the way you want your pages to appear on the final copy. Always check the layout settings and set them to your preference. A full bleed is a wider margin that you add to your document to ensure that there is no blank edge on the pages. It is usually trimmed after printing has happened.

    Emphasize powerful words

    It would be best if you emphasized powerful words on its cover. That way, your headings, and subheadings act like teasers that trigger people to buy and read it. In addition, it would be best if you made readers curious about what they might find in the magazine. You can achieve this by focusing on specific, powerful words such as Now, Free, Gifts, and Exclusive.

    The idea is to incorporate words that will provoke a reader to open and read it. You can emphasize these words by making them pop using a different background, feel-good colors, or the 3D effect. Also, ensure that you use powerful words that will connect to people at an emotional level. With such words, your magazine is likely going to sell.

    Use appropriate color and design

    For color and design, especially on the cover, ensure that you base it around your cover image. Once you have chosen your cover image, select appropriate colors and designs that make your cover appealing. Ensure that you choose a proper dominant color for the title and headline, usually red and its shades. Your chosen color should adequately contrast the text and background to give it a fantastic look. You can also choose complementary colors or mix and match until you find what is appealing.

    Place a portrait on the cover

    For your cover image, it is best to use a portrait of a celebrity or well-known individual. This is because; it is easier for your magazine to sell since people will be curious about their favorite celebrities.

    Ensure that their eye contact is on the same level as the audience to ensure the people create a deep connection with the individual. This is achieved by positioning the portrait using the rule of thirds. Also, remember that it is more beneficial to use famous people or celebrities who hold certain authority in the specific field that the magazine focuses on.

    Avoid busy backgrounds

    Always avoid busy backgrounds, as this will dilute the important message you want to communicate to your audience through your images and text. Instead, ensure your elements are organized, and your background is subtle. Use a transparent or solid color for your background to make it easier for your information to stand out.

    Using patterned or mixed colors for your background will overpower the whole cover design and confuse the readers. It might not even sell because you did not balance your information and its background.

    Go for illustrations

    Finally, it is vital to go for illustrations rather than photos for the cover page.  You can also choose to mix both drawings and photographs to create a more appealing look. Ensure you are bold, creative, and unique when selecting illustrations. Also, use appropriate illustrations to complement the other elements you have used on your cover.

    Key Takeaways

    • A magazine is a periodical publication meant to inform, entertain and even educate your audience weekly, fortnight, or monthly.
    • Creating a magazine with fantastic content and great images will only sell if you create a visually appealing and intriguing cover.
    • The cover should be creative, attractive, and engaging by using font sizes and color schemes that blend well.
    • It is essential to know how to design the entire magazine and to include all the required elements so that it stands out from the rest.
    • You do not have to be a professional designer to achieve more readership and increase sales. You can use a template and the guide from this article.
    • Ensure that your design creates a balance and flow when it comes to your content so that your text and images properly complement each other.

    About This Article

    Madison Edgar
    Authored by:
    Graphic Design, Logo Design, Vector Illustration, Photo Editing
    Hailing from Colorado, Madison Edgar is a seasoned graphic designer with over 5 years of hands-on experience. She has collaborated with a diverse range of companies, delivering innovative logos, cohesive brand identities, and captivating print and digital assets. Madison's design repertoire spans from crafting impactful logo designs and setting brand guidelines, to creating print and digital marketing collaterals. She also excels in curating presentations, vector illustrations, and refining images through expert photo editing and composition. With a keen eye for detail and a creative flair, Madison Edgar consistently produces designs that resonate and leave a lasting impression.

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