Finding Theme Inspiration in Magazines

Finding Theme Inspiration in Magazines

It’s time to dive head first into the wonderful realm of the next yearbook’s theme development. It’s a process — a complicated one at that, and for many staffs, it starts soon. Luckily, you have options, ideas and inspiration in virtually any direction you look. Ideas That Fly, the Showcase Collection, Pinterest, Discoveries magazine… speaking of magazine — that’s exactly where I want to point searching staffs today.

Head to the closest magazine rack and grab a few favorite publications. Or grab a few that you’re not so familiar with. Searching through page after page of magazines offer variety, and while it can be a lot of different options to consume, too many is better than too little, right?


I think it’s safe to say magazines set a standard when it comes to design. They have large audiences who look to their products to see what’s fresh and new — your staff won’t be the only ones turning to magazines as a source of creative inspiration. Look at how they are laying out stories and content, consider what you want to cover then, take a page from their book and use mod ideas or other layout details on your own pages.


For all you font fanatics out there — you know who you are — magazines are the perfect place to look for snazzy headline treatments and packages, font pairings and styles. A font and treatment of the font can make or break a page. Do your staff a favor and peek at how the pros are doing it.

Color palettes

Color is abundant in this world. With so many options, it can be difficult to narrow down a color palette… especially for something as important as your next THEME! Browse through magazines to see what continues to catch your eye. Is it a pair of colors, a single neon color that you’re obsessing over or is it subtle naturals and pastels?


Advertisements can be great sources for photography inspiration. Whether it’s the angle of the photo, the subject or the effects, they can give your staff ideas of types of photography you might want to include in next year’s book.

Copy/How information is presented

Infographics are a great example of how information is delivered in a not-so-typical way. Notice how large publications are telling stories. Are they using lists? Fun graphics? Quizzes? These formats do a great job of visually grabbing the reader’s attention — the idea is to make them look at the design (because it’s nice and lovely) and then want to read what it is you’re talking about.

Visual Theme Concepts

Don’t forget to look for tiny details that will make readers “Oooh!” and “Aaah!” This means graphics, lines or cool effects applied to any/all yearbook elements mentioned above. It could be a cool folio treatment, photos in text, trendy graphic elements and so much more.

When a magazine page makes you stop and examine more closely, mentally dissect the layout. Decide what you like about the headline package, photo or layout. Odds are, you’ll only use bits and pieces of inspiration when moving forward with the new theme. Bring those elements to your staff as theme development continues. And, as a bonus tip… physically dissect parts of magazines that you like to create a staff mood board! Display it somewhere in the staff room for a constant source of inspiration and a place for beloved ideas. Get those creative juices flowing!

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