Local Fonts: As discussed in the typography post, Time only uses two typefaces, a serif and a sans serif. These typefaces appear in the same form throughout the magazine, only changing in size or color. Although there are some differences throughout the magazine, typically the sans is used for headlines and headers for sections, as is seen on the “Inbox” and “Briefing” pages. This setup continues for most of the inside pages.
Time creates hierarchy in several different ways. The first is through this contrasting of typefaces. Franklin Gothic, the sans serif type, is naturally heavier and larger. It therefore works well for headlines and other elements that need to stand out on a page. On the “Revolution, Delayed” example above, the headline is prominent not just because of size, but also because of the type choice. The two typefaces are often used in opposition of each other for hierarchy throughout the magazine. For example, pull quotes are always in Franklin but the attribution, lesser in importance, is in the capped serif font with the person’s occupation italicized below.
The magazine also creates hierarchy among the same type family, more often than not using Franklin Gothic. They either use bold, size or a different color to contrast between text explanations of an infographic or a head and deck in the same font. These tactics are the same that are used on the cover, creating consistency throughout the magazine. The main title is either in the two-type formula or contrasting in the Franklin front using size for hierarchy. Teasers also follow the head-deck combo of a sans serif head and serif deck.
Front of the Book = Briefing/Commentary: Briefing is a roundup of the week’s news stories and is spread throughout eight to 10 pages. Commentary follows and consists of two opinion pieces. The first page of “Briefing” is a design that is seen again later in the book. It contains a large section name in sans serif and then what the section contains underneath. A large image usually accompanies the title page with some textual element, either a headline or quote, but not a full story. The page is consistent with other title pages in the magazine is very different in design from other inside pages because it contains little body text. It is similar, however, because the same typefaces are used in similar ways to create hierarchy.
“Briefing” is designed similar to other magazine’s front of the book sections. It differs in design from the rest of the predominately text-based design of the well and back of the book. It contains several different stories and images on a single page. These elements are separated in several ways. The first is by literally dividing them using rules. Time’s basic grid is a four-column grid, but they break this often in briefing by using combinations of half columns (half a column or 1.5 column, etc.). These physical differences make stories stand apart. The four-column grid is abounded later in the magazine for a roomier three-column setup.
Time also uses typographical elements to create hierarchy and organization as well. The first of these, which as already been discussed, are contrasts of weight through type differences. The headline is in Franklin; the deck in the serif. “Briefing” also uses color in its text. Red is used often as a highlighting color. Small blurbs, titles or statistics are also highlighted in a bright yellow, drawing attention while also differentiating itself from other text elements on the page. Stretching across the top of the page is a horizontal box with the word “Briefing” in it. This same flag appears in non-well areas of the magazine, such as in the “Commentary” section or the back of the book. For more on the setup of columns, see the Back of the Book section below.
The Well: The well, as in all magazines, is where the meaty pieces are located. Time has a huge well, featuring long and short features. It always contains a “World” and “National” section, but then contains other newsworthy sections such as technology or business. The well is recognizable by the small red section flags that appear at the top corner of every page (though this flag does move on the first page of a story to be closer to the headline). The flag is simple, different from the other sections and shows off Time’s iconic red.
The type and font in the well follows the same typographic elements I discussed in last week’s post. The magazine is consistent from page to page, story to story in their uses of hierarchical elements in terms of font size, color and layout. Just because the basic elements are the same, however, it doesn’t mean that every page looks the same. One or two stories differ from the traditional well layout, though they still use the same two typefaces and black, red or white.
Life and/or Arts: This section, for me, is the transition from the well to the back of the book. Its size varies from week to week, but in its longest moments these two sections can spread 30 pages. They feature less hard news and more lifestyle stories. Typically Time’s special issues, such as the best television shows and movies of the year, appear in these sections.
The title page for “Life” is the same that was seen for the “Briefing” page, creating consistency in these special sections. I have seen a similarly designed title page for the “Arts” section, but sometimes they go with a different title page if the topic is, for lack of a better work, artsy. For example, this week’s “Arts” section is devoted to great performances in film, and therefore just has a simple department title as to not take away from the fantastic photographs that occupy the rest of the section.
Back of the Book: Time concludes with a lighthearted column, usually Joel Stein’s “The Awesome Column.” The design of this page is the same that appears in the “Commentary” section earlier in the book. The section head is the same as the “Briefing” and “Commentary” section. Each column has a photo of the columnist, their name in large Franklin type with the first name in a smaller red. All columns also use a Franklin head and deck in the same size, differentiated by color (the head is black while the deck is about a 40 percent gray).
In conclusion: Time does an excellent job of creating a consistent voice throughout the magazine while still adding elements that separate sections. They use similar head-deck structures and use of typefaces, size and color. The differences between the departments are subtle; I actually didn’t really think about the different sections until I started doing field notes. They make themselves known but do not detract from the information of the stories themselves.