A brief look at some current magazine contents pages… – UPDATED

Esquire January 2009 TOC gallery

So as I was blabbing on about all the contents pages I’d talked about below, my employer at my full-time job comes into my office and throws a bunch of magazines on my desk, among them the new Esquire – the January issue. I immediately turn to their contents pages to see how they compare to the previous month’s (below), and see a note on the following page talking about how they’re getting rid of this particular design feature. I’m curious to see what they have in mind to replace it, if it’s going to be something equally…different, or return to a more traditional looking contents page. Anyway, here are those pages from the January issue. The last ones to look like this (at least in Esquire – I’m pretty sure I’m going to steal this idea sometime soon).

Esquire January 2009 TOC 1 Esquire January 2009 TOC 2


As contents page design seems to be one of the most searched for subjects on the blog, I thought I’d take a few minutes to look briefly at a few magazines contents pages that are out right now, without going into too much detail (‘cos it’s Hogmanay, and I have a tradition of inebriation to uphold).

First up is Esquire’s December 2008 issue… I haven’t really looked at regular Esquire for while, so was surprised to open it and find these kick-ass contents pages with cool photo-montages and really cool details.


Love this little photo of Vince Vaughn at the top of the page, and how so much attention is called to it – despite it’s tiny size – just through placement and the symmetrical design of the page.


Also digging the use of bold, italic and highlighting in this little block of text in the corner.


The other contents page is similar to the first, but a little lacking in those detailed points of interest.


Next… for some reason there’s a July 2008 Portfolio laying on my desk, so it got dragged into this too. They’ve got a very distinct look going on, easily recognizable from issue to issue. I like the type treatment below the photo, kinda like Esquire’s above, but only serving the contents of the ‘Brief’ section at the front of the book.



December 2008’s Gourmet – the cover of which is awesome, and I need to talk about that in another post – sticks to their tried and tested large-scale photography and minimal type treatment. The incorporation of the recipe is a nice touch, and probably a god draw for magazine browsers when they see how easy to read and follow the instructions are. Very high end, city mag-ish, only without the “LOOK AT ME!” obnoxiousness.




SEED’s December 2008 contents page is all (refreshingly) contained on a single spread, with a nice grid/illustration dominating the right-hand page. It seems to have captured that balance of appealing to the serious/academic reader as well as the casual magazine browser…meaning it won’t turn either of them off by trying too hard or not enough.


The January 2009 WIRED is just plain awesome. I wasn’t sold on the re-design originally but now I am jealous/amazed by almost everything they do there. The first contents page is fairly traditional…


The second contents page is awesome cool, arranging products, illos and photography from throughout the issue, and indicating each items page number, pretty much without any text describing what you’ll find there – except for the small block at the bottom of the page, which is an overview of the front of book sections of the magazine.



Vogue’s January 2009 contents pages were a little different than I expected to see. There’s some unusual type treatment in the page numbering … not groundbreaking or mind-blowing, but not quite as rigid as I’d expected (see detail below).



Finally the December/January 2009 Interview takes advantage of their large format, photography and white space to give the contents pages some real weight and authority – especially in contrast to the ads next door. I’m still not sure who this magazine is for, but I wish I had a 1/10 of their photo budget to work with!



Explore posts in the same categories: Advertising, color choice, contents pages, cool, design, Future, Illustration, Magazines, Photography, Typography, Why is it like this?


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