Whether it’s the Body Issue, NFL Draft special, or player highlight, the front page of every ESPN The Magazine introduces the reader to the biggest stories in sports and which features that issue will cover specifically. The cover sets the tone and theme ahead of opening each issue (e.g. Photo Issue, Body Issue, Interview Issue). This will hint whether the issue is visual heavy, includes stats for projections, etc. The athlete used for the cover photo is the focal point of discussion and this image is usually a portrait shot of him/her.
The nameplate is the same as its network logo: “ESPN”. It reads large bold, slightly slanted with a strikethrough going through. The nameplate is not always the same color. In fact, most of the special issues stray away from the traditional red.
The folio can be found on the bottom of each page excluding the ads. It consists of page number followed by publication name then date of publishing—order flipped when viewing right page folio. The folio is fairly simplistic and boring, but the repetition and well-organized presentation makes it easy for the reader to page.
As indicated by the cover text, the front page contains an average of 2-4 inside stories. These range anywhere from trade deadline specials, to exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes of star athletes. ESPN does a good job using different typefaces to make these stories stand out, the more important ones appearing larger than others. There’s also a unique use of lines to separate the inside stories and keep a fun yet neat balance across the cover.
The cover hierarchy follows the same outline across issues. The first thing people usually notice is the nameplate smack in the middle. Wherever the cover athlete’s eyes are looking prioritizes what the reader sees first. It’s also the sharp display text that gets noticed immediately and thus, the hierarchy of story importance is established. The last thing noticed is typically the cover folio.
Table of Contents
The TOC found in the September 2018 NFL Preview issue positions a portrait shot of Jalen Ramsey front and center with text running down both sides. The left side is labeled with the NFL special promo whereas the right side has “Forward” features with the featured “Numbers” column finishing off the page. I found the two sharp, black lines binding the top and bottom of the page together to be very useful. The page numbers within the TOC stand out because they are bright red. Below each story is a description for the feature.
The sections go as following: Both “Behind the Pages” (ft. Odell Beckham Jr.) and “The” Numbers (ft. Mookie Betts) in the first 6 pages, Forward features spanning from pages 9-36, and NFL Preview 2018. The NFL content represents the bulk and therefore ESPN uses an array of colors to spice up the player stories and create contrast within this long section. Department markers are found on the top corner of each left page.