Magazines Register

Three Hot Magazine Design Trends

Magazine covers are designed to lure readers. Every packaging designer capitalizes on grabbing the eye first, and second, sparking the impulse to pay for what’s inside. Magazine covers are packaging for content. Compelling content needs a compelling package — just as the contents must always deliver on the promise of the cover. 

Keep on top of the latest trends for innovative, fresh, and enticing magazine designs.

No-type — or low-type — covers

Less-is-more covers are hot this year. They lead with graphics and artwork and use little to no type on the cover. This has been popular with indie publications for a while, but lately, mainstream magazines are adopting the trend of clean, graphically focused, and type-free covers.

In the past, news-heavy covers fit in perfectly on the newsstand. The predominant design theory relied on the cover’s emphasis on the content inside to attract readers. But there is an element of quiet confidence in the new type-free cover designs. As one agency says, “These designers know core readers are committed and don’t need to be lured in with a bevy of cover lines in different weights and sizes.”

Magazine covers remain one of the most important lures for on-the-fly readership. Clean, striking imagery creates curiosity in potential readers to connect them with the content behind the cover.


The less-is-more design trend of type-free covers is often mirrored within the pages of popular publications. Print is adopting an anti-digital approach in stark contrast to the pop-up ads, subscription walls, embedded videos, and information overload found online. It’s yoga versus spin class — a deep breath over hyperventilation — and it works. Impress your readers without overwhelming them, and give them refuge from the frenetic clutter of digital space.

As a school of design, minimalism has been around since the 1960s. It’s a stripped-down, sparse comment on today’s ridiculously hyperactive digital medium, and it’s surprisingly effective. Minimalism is an intentional use of negative space in and among graphic designs. Negative space is frequently thought of as black or white, but it doesn’t need to be. Strong, bold colors can add warmth and pop to minimalist designs.

Elements of minimalism in magazine design may include:

  • Design simplicity as a brand standard.
  • Clean lines and compositions which incorporate negative space.
  • Lighter, neutral color palettes.
  • Bold, striking colors and/or images.

Simplicity and clean, precise content presentation are minimalist concepts increasingly visible in the magazine designs of recent years.


High-impact photography, freehand fonts, and original illustrations are married effectively in magazines of every genre. But today’s consumers crave authenticity, and in print, nothing satisfies that need quite like a photograph. Photography trends mirror life as we know it, and they’ve evolved quickly to reflect the pandemic. Images from the last year, for instance, show public events with socially distanced and masked “crowds.”

Some of the other photography trends we’re seeing this year include:

  • The actual image leaves something to the imagination and allows the viewer to place themselves in the context of the photograph.
  • Nature as a backdrop for human activity. This style has always resonated with hikers, bikers, and outdoor adventurers. Today, nature also highlights our mental health and emphasizes a return to simpler times.
  • Muted colors. Photographers use filters to soften images in post-production to achieve a specific effect — typically a more cohesive presentation.
  • Drone photography. Flyover shots alter our typical perspective and are effective for a variety of magazine concepts.

Magazine designs have always had one goal in common: to attract and retain readers — a goal we share at Sheridan. Contact your Sheridan representative for a consultation to learn how we can help you streamline your publishing processes, reduce costs, and keep up with changes in print and publishing.

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