Task 2A – Magazine Layouts

“Good design is obvious. Great design is transparent.” – Joe Sparano

Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio – in relation to magazine layout – is the common mathematical ratio found within nature, which allows designers to create aesthetically pleasing work.

Also know as the Golden Section, the Golden Mean or the Greek letter ‘Phi’, the system describes the perfectly symmetrical relationship within two proportions of a sequence.

To calculate the Golden Ratio to get harmonious proportions, you:

  • First take a square and multiply one of it’s sides by 1.618. This will thus produce a rectangle of harmonious proportions.
  • Now, layer then square over the created rectangle – this will create the Golden Ratio.
  • After this has been completed, you then continue multiplying a side of the given shape by 1.618, to create progressively smaller shapes.
  • Now within the diagram created, draw an arch inside each square, going from one corner to the next, thus creating the first curve of the Golden Ratio.
  • By continuing the arch within all the given squares, you can thus create the Golden Spiral.

The Golden Ratio can be used within layout design, via the use of negative and positive space. By using the said ratio, designers can ensure their work is equally space and correctly proportioned.


Here, the photographer has used the Golden Ratio, to capture this expressive picture. Via the use of the Golden Spiral, we can see that the lighthouse has been cleverly alighted to fit the tightest part of the curve, thus being the first thing that you see.

As well, to create such an aesthetically pleasing image, the photographer has used selective focusing, to allow the foreground detail to standout and contrast sharply, against the less crisp background. Now, the image has been captured in such a way, that the large bend of the Golden Spiral curves around the splash of the waves, allowing an artistic and delicate approach to be taken via the photographer.

Finally, the type has been selectively placed close to the end of the Golden Spiral, making it the last thing that your eyes go to. This is because the text is the least importing part of the image, and it is not necessary that viewers must read it. By placing the type here, the designer can allow the readers to see that this is the end of the photograph, it is where the image becomes less detailed and eye catching.



The Golden Ratio can be used within a wide range of mediums, such as magazine layouts, photographs, company logos, building architecture and much more.

Here, the cover of Feld magazine has been created using the Golden Ratio method. By cropping the photo, to allow the eye to be aligned within the centre of the cover, creates a very aesthetically pleasing finish to the design. Finally, the finished cover design follows the curvature of the Golden Spiral, with the higher detailed section located at the centre of the spiral.

As well, the type used within the magazine cover, cleverly follows the long curve of the Golden Spiral. Starting from the bottom left hand corner, the text progressively becomes shorter in length, as the curve becomes harsher in gradient. By allowing the type to change with the spiral, the designers can thus create an aesthetically pleasing layout, which draws you in and captures your attention.


Moodley & Helms 

Designers such as the Moodley studio and the Helms Workshop, use the Golden Ratio to develop their work, identity and publications.

Within the Moodley Studio’s work the Golden ratio was used to determine the placement and sizings of each element within the cover. By using such a layout, the designers can ensure a well-proportioned design is produced, which is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

As for the Helms Workshop the designers here used both the Golden Ratio and the Golden Spiral, to create a pleasingly desired content and layout. It is noted that within the Fullsteam Brewery design, many of the used elements fit in perfectly with the Ratio and the Spiral, thus helping to tell a narrative on the label, giving us detail on the brand and the owner.

Existing Magazines


  • The use of a two-column grid system allows lead stories to be laid out with a wide outer margin and two narrow columns, side-by-side. Like displayed on this page, each column used, does not have to be equal in width or length.
  • Three-column grids are very versatile, adaptable and give the page layout an elegant finish. A three-column grid is mainly used for longer stories and uses small type to fit in much more information.
  • A four-column system gives the designer endless options for the layout. Narrow type allows up to thirty characters to be used per line and uses paragraphs to add white space to the selection of text.
  • Very rare, yet not extinct within magazine layouts is the use of a twelve-column grid. Mainly used for news articles, culture stories or to pack a lot of information into a small page, the use of up to twelve-columns gives the designer an endless amount of infinite layouts to work with.
  • Repetition can be seen throughout this specific magazine, via the paw print shaped page numbering. The design links in well with the TV show that the magazine is for, thus attracting the reader’s attention and allowing them to easily know what page they’re on.
  • Here, large heading text has been used to draw you in and capture your attention. The use of such a layout allows the reader to know what the upcoming article is about. As well, the use of the contrasting colours on the type, gives an extra 3D effect and finish.
  • Depending on the magazine’s target audience, designers know how to perfectly make their product fit the market. For instance, the children’s magazine here uses strong, bold, highly pigmented tones and every now and then, stems from the three main primary colours.
  • The use of imagery to break up text, allows the designers to keep the reader’s attention and not overload them with so much information at once. As well, the images allow the audience to clearly picture what is written, thus linking text to imagery.
  • For the selected target audience, extras such as (in a children’s magazine case) will be included. Here, items like stickers and added gifts have been used to attract passers by attention and to also sync with their level of reading ability.
  • Small graphical imagery, such as infographics, have been used here to break up the text on the page. The designer has carefully planned out the page, to allow the imagery to sit within the right hand column. By doing this, the designer can allow this to be the first and main thing that the readers see, thus making them want to know more about the explained TV show/film/actor etc.
  • Breaking up pages using text of different shades, not only adds depth, but also definition to the layout. It allows the darker text (mainly used on headings), to standout and contrast well against the background, whereas, the lighter toned subheading or main body text, will be the reader’s secondary view.
  • By using colour tones to match the selected TV show or film (for example; yellows, blues and silvers for a Despicable Me/Minions themed magazine, or pinks, greens and yellows for a Suicide Squad based publication), a designer can allow the final copy to run smoothly and flow well throughout.
  • Small, yet simple features like different coloured text can allow the designer to subtly, yet effectively break up a lot of text, to allow the read to take in all of the given information.
  • Including quotes from the film/TV show, or from an actor/director, as well as given ratings from websites and newspapers, can subtly increase the reader’s attention and interest. Simple facts can greater the audience’s knowledge for the given topic.


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