Field Notes | The Nation | Week 6 – Furniture

The Nation uses some furniture elements to guide the reader through the magazine in a non-distracting and straightforward way. Starting at the front of the book, each issue has a section called “letters” with short blurbs from readers about previous issues. This section always includes a pen illustration with a “letters” written in their classic red. I like that this section is clearly marked. In addition, the the fact that they chose to use an illustration of a pen ties their theme together, since the magazine relies heavily on illustrations rather than photographs.

After the letters section is a comment section, denoted by an illustration of a typewriter with “comment” written in red on a piece of paper coming out the top. This section sits on the page alongside the table of contents, separated by a heavy vertical line separating the two sections. I found this comment section difficult to understand at first. Since the comment illustration appears nestled in the text halfway down the page, it can be confusing about what section you are reading exactly. The illustration gets lost in the page.

Most issues of The Nation have a small side column “By the Numbers.” It usually appears on the page after the table of comments and beginning of the comments section and lives on the left side. It is separated from other comments by a thick vertical black line. The numbers included relate to the story on those pages. I think this section is a nice break from the text of the pages. It looks at the issue in a different way and draws readers in with numbers in bold instead of just the usual text.

The Nation indicates that the magazine is moving onto the next section, which are columns by various writers, by including an illustration of the columnist with their name in a bold red at the top of the page. I like this choice. By showing the columnists’ face, it indicates to the reader that this piece is the thoughts of that person.

The next section of The Nation, features, looks different from the other front of book sections. The layout of the features section widely varies from article to article and issue to issue. However, some furniture that stays constant include the design of the pull quotes. They are always set in a sans serif font, contrasting the serif font of the boy copy. The text is white on a black highlighted background. Important words of the quote are yellow. I really like this approach to pull quotes. They pop out against the text and is is the first thing the eye is drawn to on the page. That being said, I also feel like they don’t really match the rest of The Nation’s style and design. It feels out of place and straying from their theme, but that could be intentional.

The next section, Books & the Arts, is the only section in The Nation that is introduced beforehand in every issue. It is set in the same typeface as the nameplate and in red, tying together the whole magazine’s theme. Unlike the features section, the opening page of this spread is always designed the same.

The headline, always set in sans serif and in caps, appears under an illustration or photograph and is followed by the story in three columns. An author bio appears under the story in the bottom left hand corner, separated by a thin horizontal line and set in italics to distinguish it from the body of the story. This section front also includes the book or art piece the article is talking about. It is set within the body copy, but it is separated with a thicker vertical red line and a combination of bold sans serif type and italics in the text below. It includes the name of the piece, the publisher if it’s a book, and the price. This layout is the same for each story in the Books & the Arts section.  I like that the section front for Books & the Arts is always the same. The consistency in each issue lets the reader know what to expect and has a clean, standardized look to it. Including the name of the piece being talked about lets the reader know how to buy or find that item, which I think is helpful.

Finally, the magazine concludes with a crossword puzzle in the back of the book. The puzzle number is set in red and the same font as the nameplate. I think the crossword is pretty standard, and shows the demographics of the audience of The Nation.