Field Notes | Real Simple | Color


The covers for Real Simple are very plain, simple, and to the point. Luckily, there are often vibrant, saturated colors that are incorporated into the nameplate, headlines, and main image. The colors for the cover change from each issue, but always have a monochromatic and analogous color scheme. For example, for the February 2019 cover, the nameplate is monochromatic – the colors are two purple hues with the word “Real” in a light purple and the word “Simple” in a darker purple.

When it comes to the headlines, they are analogous, meaning that the colors appear next to each other on the color wheel. For example, for the February 2019 cover, the headlines are shown in purple, a deep red, and black (which strays away from the analogous scheme but still goes with the other two colors).

As for the images, they often inspire the color palette for the nameplate and headlines. The February 2019 cover has an image of fruit with red and deep blue/purple hues. Altogether, these colors create a vibrant and at ease feeling for the magazine. This may be chosen to stay uniform and not appear too overly colorful.

Other issues also show how the image sets the palette for the nameplate and headlines, meaning that this is not a random choice, but stylistic.

Colors on February 2019 Real Simple issue

Example of monochromatic and analogous color schemes on the February 2019 issue of Real Simple


Real Simple is not afraid to use white space, but they are also not afraid to use color. Just like the cover, many of the colors are saturated with deep hues and are bright.

When it comes to images in a story, especially service pieces, the background is a solid color that is often a primary color or a tint of a primary color. Then the main image typically has a pop of color. Altogether the background and main image create a complementary color scheme. For example, in the January 2019 issue, one service story about “Citrus Peels” has a deep blue background and the citrus peels are orange. Together they perfectly create a complementary color scheme.

Orange peels on blue background.

Example of complementary colors used in the February 2019 issue of Real Simple

This isn’t always the case though. Many images often times have a white background with products in the images having a pop of saturated color. This draws the eye to the products and keeps the overall simplistic theme.

As for typography, body copy always appears in black while headlines and deks also appear in black. As for sections, they typically appear in a primary color such as red, blue or green.  Again, this might be due to keeping the simplistic theme to the magazine and not overwhelming readers with color.

Woman applying makeup in a magazine.

An example of color used in a section name in the February 2019 issue of Real Simple.