_contents pages

The role of the Contents pages

12 top tips for great Contents pages

1. Produce the Contents pages after the cover so that coverlines can be replicated

2. Keep the Contents simple, concentrating on clarity

3. Ensure sections reflect needs and desires of readers and not just your own way of splitting up the mag. Think about section heads

4. Plan the Contents: consider taking special photos

5. Make sure the mission statement is clear and obvious

6. Check the magazine title/logo is clearly published on the Contents page. Use logos from within the mag on the Contents page

7. Consider giving the Contents a special name or title

8. Every caption must have a page number, as must every reference to the covermount if there is one

9. Page numbers must not dominate the copy

10. Are all the stories on the cover obvious on the Contents page? Is there a special cover story panel?

11. One story can be mentioned any number of times under separate sections

12. Hierarchy. Make the important features shout out and the lesser ones fall back

(in order of priority)

1. A link. The reader must be able to move directly to any cover feature with the quickest of glances of the Contents page.

2. The salesman. Contents pages must sell the magazine, by communicating the quantity and quality of material on offer.

3. Tone setter. Good Contents pages set the tone of the magazine, with captions, copy, photographs, a mission statement, as editorial and branding.

4. Deliver value. More often than not the reader ought to be thinking “There’s so much in it” once they’ve scanned the Contents page.

5. The priorities. By making big things big and small things small the Contents page can guide the reader towards the most important parts. The best Contents pages have varying sizes of illustration.

6. The index. Once readers have bought the magazine and taken it home, they must be able to find what they want to read, and use the Contents page as an index.


EXAMPLES (click for a larger view)

Healthy contents page
Healthy contents page
Healthy contents page
Healthy contents page
Healthy contents page


Rock and Roam Contents page


This page from Rock & Roam demonstrates some of the principles of good Contents design. Hierarchy pulls out key features thanks to the use of imagery. Coverlines and contents entries are identical so readers can find stories that intrigued them on the cover. The map graphic stresses that Virgin serves more locations than Florida alone. Its general style follows the format of Virgin Holidays' website but the colour changes every issue to remind readers they are reading a new edition