Publication Design Vocabulary: Magazine and Newspaper Terms You Might Not Know

Working in publishing, it feels like there are always new terms to learn every day. Here are some terms used for magazines, newspapers, books and other publications with definitions that are a bit more obscure to those outside of the business.

There are a few newspaper sizes that have a large effect on the perception of its audiences, and each format has unique design challenges.

Barn door cover
Also known as a split front cover, the barn door cover opens up with two flaps meeting at the center of a magazine cover with advertising on the inside.

A bellyband is a printed wrapper on the outside of a magazine or book. It usually has an advertisement on it. The name might help you imagine it. It’s usually less than the full height of the publication and must be removed to read the magazine.

The Berliner newspaper format isn’t common here in the US. It’s wider and taller than a compact or tabloid newspaper, and folded in half vertically like a broadsheet. European newspapers tend to have greater innovation than the American market, and they do much better economically than the US industry. This might be attributed to the greater number of commuters using public transport and the more newspapers competing in each jurisdiction, increasing the perceived need to innovate. While American newspapers are competing against the internet and other news sources, the publishers seem less reactive in areas where there is only one dominant newspaper.

This is the largest of the newspaper formats. The page size is typically over 22″ in height. These large newspapers are becoming less common due to the cost of printing such large pages. The half fold of the format is what gives us the “above the fold” term that we use in web. Stories with more importance are placed above the fold for display purposes. Examples of the broadsheet format would include The Washington Post and Baltimore Sun, which happen to be my area’s local papers.

“Le Monde is in the Berliner format. The Guardian is in the British broadsheet format, whereas the Daily Mail is a tabloid, and the Times a compact. Berliner Zeitung and Neues Deutschland are of sizes between broadsheet and Berliner. A piece of white A4 paper is placed in front for scale.”

Center spread
The term center spread can refer to a “double truck”—facing pages of full editorial content. It can also refer to the feature story in the center of a publication which could consist of several double trucks.  Finally, it can refer to a double truck that “jumps the gutter—there are elements that are printed across both pages, including the center margin.

Column inch
A column inch is a newspaper or magazine measurement referring to the width of the text column by a height of one inch. Since these publications use a design grid so heavily, it simplifies things to use column inches to determine story length and advertising space. There are generally about 25-35 words in a column inch depending on the publication size and set up.

As opposed to broadsheet, the compact newspaper has a much shorter height. The height is about halved. The format tends to have shorter stories due to its size, but it’s also considered much easier to read and handle. Compacts have become popular for publications designed for commuter train/bus travel. These tend to be smaller than even the tabloid format. It’s more common in the United Kingdom than anywhere else. My local compact is the Express which is a news aggregated digest produced by the Washington Post.

Credit line
The credit line refers to the citing of photo sources.

Display advertising
As opposed to the commonly known text-based classified ads, display advertising is more heavily design-oriented advertising. Display ads typically should emphasize photographs and design elements more heavily than text. The reality is that clients don’t often understand the difference between classified ads and display ads, so it is up to the designer and sales staff to communicate these aesthetic differences.

Display ads are traditionally placed next to editorial content.

Classifieds tend to be sectioned off since they are text, which could cause confusion. Billboards and signs are also considered display advertising.

On the web, the term display advertising is more and more often being used to refer to advertising that relies on the traditional print payment scheme: page views (called circulation in print) rather than click-throughs.

A double truck is two-facing pages of a publication that contains no advertising, just editorial photos, design, and writing.

This is a mock-up or layout of a page. It could just contain a setup of several pages of the publication outlining what images and text should be put on one page. It could also be a more specific sketch outlining the layout in the page.

A folio can refer to a single sheet of paper forming two pages in a publication’s binding. It can also refer to the publication info printed on the bottom or top of a page, including the page number. Newspapers and magazines frequently include the publication name and date in their folio line.

Full bleed
A full bleed is a printed page and then cut off to have ink going right to the edge of the publication.

A gatefold is a flap inside the cover that opens up, allowing for a fold-out advertisement.

This is the center margin where two pages meet in a publication.

A jump is a split in a story. Whenever you see a newspaper or magazine says that a story is continued to or from somewhere else in the publication, that would be a jump. The actual text explaining where to go or where you came from is a jump line. Jumps can be due to placement of ads. Or they can help place the beginning of stories closer to the front of the publications with their conclusions in the back. Newspapers can fit more stories on their front page by jumping them.

This is when a story, part of a story, or an advertisement is removed from a publication and will not be printed in a future edition. If it’s going to be printed in a later edition, then it would be “held” or put on “hold”

While many people mistakenly think that the masthead is the logo of the newspaper, the term refers to the editorial staff box.

Open Page
This is a page in a publication that has no advertising, just editorial content.

Tabloid is a small newspaper size like a compact. They can be as large as 17×11″, but there are smaller formats as well. The company I work for just released a new tabloid format, the almost square size of 11.5″ tall by 11″ wide. I’m designing the “Back to School” publication through the company at this new size this fall, in fact. The tabloid format is traditionally reserved for weekly publications and less breaking news. However, with the cost of newsprint becoming increasingly prohibitive the tabloid format is catching on

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.


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