The Art of Printing Magazines | Custom Printing Inc creating a magazine

Preparation of Content

Every piece of content has to be carefully considered and curated. Are you requesting articles to be submitted to you or do you have a team of writers that are working on assignments? Do you plan on having multiple pages of images, such as photospreads and graphic designs?

All of the content has to be prepared so that it is ready to be included in the magazine.

Words are an art form, and it’s critical that they be given the time to shine. This means that once an article or story is submitted, it must go through copyediting. Further, it has to be determined whether the words are going to stand out on their own or if there’s going to be accompanying photos or images.

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Essentially, the content has to tell a story. Depending on the magazine, multiple stories will be told from cover to cover.

Layout and Production

The layout and production aspects are typically handled on a computer. You’ll use a publishing platform that allows you to see how you’re going to layout every spread. This way, you’ll see where the edges are going to be – and you can decide if you want to leave a border or print all the way to the edge.

Will you have words and images on the same page? Are you going to get creative with overlaps? Will you have to include ads that are paid for by sponsors? All of these will go into the layout design – and it will change slightly from issue to issue.

You’ll want to consider all of the details throughout the production – color selection, fonts, font sizes, and more. Ensure that it’s easy to read every bit of information that is going to be printed.

Paper, Paper, Paper

It’s all about the paper, really. Think of it as the medium on which your artistic expressions will be printed. Every artist takes the time to consider what they’re going to create their masterpiece with – and magazine printing should be no different.

Gloss paper is the most common option, though it comes down to the weight of the paper. The thinner it is, the better it will feel to the readers who are turning the pages.

The average office supply store will provide 80-lb gloss text paper. However, printers can offer much thinner options, ranging from 45-lb to 60-lb. The details are important – and you want the finished product to be as light as possible.

It’s not just the weight of the paper, either. If you’ve ever perused through a magazine rack, you know that they can be printed in various sizes. The most common size is 8.5 x 11, though you can choose to go larger when you’re focused on presenting images. If you’re offering a digest with more words than images, you can also go smaller.

Finding a printer that will print the magazines to the size you require is critical. Don’t feel as though you have to conform to the “standard” size.


All of the files are presented to the printer to ensure that the layout can be finalized. The printer will need to know such things as the size of the issue, the paper it will be printed on, and other details. Once you have a working relationship with your printer, the details will be remembered for future issues.

High-resolution files will need to be acquired for all images to ensure that there is no grain. Every image should be able to stand out on its own. The printer will make final color adjustments so that it can go to film.

By choosing a professional commercial printing company with a history of magazine printing, you can be sure that the layout you have created is printed to the highest standards. You can ask for a physical or digital proof, too, allowing you to have a final look at what the magazine will look like before it goes into print.

Just as painters pick up a paintbrush and canvas, printers have their mediums, too. Offset lithography is the most common aspect of printing magazines. It means that there’s a plate-making process, a wetting process, and an inking process.

Every page layout is given its own plate. It’s permanent, which is why layout and content must be decided carefully. Otherwise, it would be like a sculptor deciding to change the design halfway through – it can be done but it will be considerably more expensive and time-consuming.

In some instances, offset lithography is simply too time-consuming of a process – and creating plates is too expensive based on the number of magazines that will be printed.

This is when digital printing can be used. It can offer the same high-quality pages but without the need to create plates. Printers can help you to determine the best printing process based on the various factors at play.

From there, an entire process still happens. The pages are folded, trimmed, and bound so that they are ready to be distributed. Watching this happen is an artistic approach that borders on perfectionism. With the folds, the goal is to ensure that no images or words are lost.

When trimmed, the goal is to ensure that every page is perfectly cut to match all of the others. Finally, the binding brings it all together so that subscribers can hold the magazine in their hands and turn the pages without it falling apart on them.

Appreciate the Artistry

Any time you hold a magazine in your hand, revel in the artistry. Feel how the pages are coated as you turn the page. Explore how the colors of the images pop against the light. Embrace the creative layout that combines the stories with the images.

A significant amount of time and effort goes into creating a magazine. It’s a team effort where many departments are involved. Once you’ve worked to create a beautiful magazine with amazing content, you will want to find a printer that can turn your creation into art. Once you have art in your hands, distribution becomes much easier.


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