Editorial Design Task

Katie Durkin
4 min readOct 25, 2020


Prior to the second module launch of second year, we were given the task to find an example of good and bad editorial design. I chose Harvard Design Magazine and Glamour (US).

Harvard Design Magazine Analysis
Harvard Design Magazine

Harvard Design Magazine’s ‘Shelf Life’ immediately caught my eye. Through the imagery of the bar code, the title “Shelf Life” and background with a cardboard texture, I knew that the main content was going to be about the environment and how long something will last. Following some research, I found that this magazine was discussing world storage and economic and ecological bankruptcy. Everything we dispose of goes somewhere, but where?

The cover has minimal content but enough to get the message across about the contents. The grid is well structured and consistent. It is organised and reflects the topics that are discussed, these are generally more serious topics that would be educational for any reader. However, the target audience are academics and those that take an interest in economic, environmental and political issues. For example, “Into the Woods” (2018) discusses urbanisation, the wilderness, challenges of destruction and our roots (both biological and architectural). “Inside Scoop” (2019) delves into interior equipment and furnishings; discussing how colour, texture and atmosphere influence daily routines, health and behaviour.

The typefaces used reflect on the type of magazine this is. “Shelf Life” is written in a serif typeface, giving the magazine a classic, elegant and established feel. While the masthead “Harvard Design Magazine №43 — F/W 2016” written in a bold sans serif typeface gives the magazine a feel of minimalism, modernity and stylish simplicity.

Reflecting again on the imagery, once the contents of the magazine is known the barcode becomes more powerful. On the topic of world storage, it reminds us that every piece of land on the planet is essentially for sale. Seen by world leaders as disposable, as though the environment is something that can be bought and sold no matter the impact.

This magazine was my example of good editorial design as I feel every aspect has been thoroughly thought through, each element with it’s own meaning and purpose.

Link to magazine: http://www.harvarddesignmagazine.org/issues/43

Glamour (US) Magazine Analysis
Glamour Magazine

Glamour (US) Magazine was chosen for the bad editorial design. Though there are a couple of design elements that work, the bad outweigh the good. Glamour is a women’s magazine that covers beauty, style and empowerment.

The elements that work well within the design are the breaking of the grid structure, I feel this represents the value of women empowerment through breaking boundaries. This topic is also covered in the imagery, particularly as this cover contains a photograph of Priyanka Chopra — an advocate for women’s rights and the changing of the gender pay gap. The typeface used in the cover lines is suitable for the target audience. It is informal and irregular — as though it has been hand-written. It relates to the language used such as “lets loose”, with a loose feel to the typeface as no two letters are the same.

However, there is no clear hierarchy within the magazine cover. The main content (being Chopra and her interview) are distracted away from due to the overpowering cover lines. The colour scheme, though it appeals to the target audience, adds to this distraction as it has been used unsuccessfully.

The most important text on the cover is “Bare Beauty” and “Do Less, Live More”, however they are written in pink on a pink background and are a lot less visible than the black type. This I feel was a poor decision, as I would argue that these are more important than “Air-Dried Hair, Foundation-Free Skin,” and “Easy Fashion Hacks” which are written in black therefore contrast and stand out more on the pink background.

I also believe that the language on the cover slightly degrades Chopra, though she is known for playing a main role in Baywatch, she is described as “Baywatch’s Priyanka Chopra”. Also, her interview is described as her “letting loose” but within it she discusses discrimination, bullying and the gender pay gap in Hollywood which is insightful and educational. Although I know Glamour are attempting to lure in their target audience, they missed the point of Chopra’s interview — making her seem less significant than make-up hacks and fashion advice.

To improve this editorial design, the cover could include the photograph of Chopra, cover lines stating the important topics covered in her interview and less information about other topics covered in the magazine.

Link to magazine: https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/gallery/priyanka-chopra-glamour-us-interview



Katie Durkin