Magazine publishing part 2 – Page settings

You learned about fonts in online magazine publishing in part 1. Today I’ll tell you about page settings.


There are 2 page orientations to choose from: portrait and landscape.
Portrait versus Landscape

The traditional physical magazines are in portrait orientations. My guess is that it’s easier to flip. When opened, the visible surface area (squarish) is easy to read (and probably scan), and the centre of gravity of the opened magazine is positioned to easily balance on one hand. And on newstands, the magazines “stand out” (get it, “stand out”? “Tall”? Portrait? *sigh*)

On a computer screen, a landscape orientation might be a better choice. How many computer screens have you seen that are in portrait orientation? Exactly.

When you read an online magazine in full screen mode, the magazine in landscape orientation fills the entire screen or much of it. There’s no balancing act, no physical flipping of pages. Going to the next page is often a click away.

A portrait orientation often squeezes the text on a page if not viewed at the normal size (100%). You have to scroll up and down to see the whole page. In landscape mode, the whole page can be seen on the screen without much distortion (if at all).

Page size

When I started Singularity, I used Microsoft Word. The default page size was 11.69 by 8.27 inches. This is the A4 size for physical paper. This also gave me a lot of trouble because I work with images.

Images have this setting called Dots Per Inch (DPI) or Pixels Per Inch (PPI). When you add an image, Microsoft Word sizes the image according to its DPI. So if you have an image with dimensions 480 by 360 pixels at 72 DPI (fairly common), you get an image that’s 6.67 by 5 inches in physical size.

Why is this important? Because getting images to bleed properly (I’ll tell you about bleeding in another article) or to position nicely on the page is a chore. The image would be off by 0.01 inch, and on the screen, there’s a 1-pixel-width of blankness. No amount of manipulation gave a satisfactory solution.

So my suggestion to you when creating an online magazine: choose dimensions that are in “round” figures. My current page size is 12 by 8.5 inches. Use increments of 0.5 inches (assuming your images have dimensions that are even numbered). By that measurement, a full page image in a 12 by 8.5 inches magazine is 1152 by 816 pixels (96 DPI). Much better than having fractions in calculating your pixel dimensions…

It’s an online magazine. You don’t have to follow physical world dimensions (or even standard dimensions).

Page margins

I keep a 0.5 inch margin from the edge for text (unless for decorative or style reasons). No special reason other than it keeps the text looking neat. Since your online magazine is not meant to be printed, you don’t really need a margin. But having a margin makes it easier to read. That’s more important to your readers.

Margins only apply to text. Bleed images (I know I know, I’ll get to image bleeding…), that is, fit an image to the edge of the page. Fill the edges with coloured pixels. Make it look beautiful.

In Microsoft Word, I could only bleed the cover image on the first page. I don’t know why Word can’t bleed images on other pages too. It did it for the cover image, right? Then I discovered I also have Microsoft Publisher, so I gave that a try. I could bleed images! Yay!

Next in the series…

Alright, alright, I’ll talk about bloody bleeding images… Do you have a question on page settings in your online magazine? Ask in a comment.

  1. Eric

    The United States’ letter-sized paper standard is 8.5 x 11. If losing that extra inch won’t bother you, you might want to consider this size for your magazine instead of 8.5 x 12.

  2. Vincent

    I’ve thought about using the letter-size dimension. After some testing, I found it just a little too long, horizontally speaking. My source images (typically from iPhone as 1600 by 1200 pixels) will need more cropping and editing to fit. And with a small footer area at the bottom of the page, the visible area will be even longer. And it’s not about trying for golden proportions…

    So I thought maybe I just scale up from 11.69 by 8.27 inches to 12 by 8.5 inches.

    And this sounds really funny… “If losing that extra inch won’t bother you” *wink wink*

Comments are closed.