Katie Czerwinski | New York Times Magazine: Language

The New York Times Magazine name is fairly straight-forward, conveying a well-known brand while reminding readers it will be more creative and less structured since it is a magazine.

Headlines are typically short, no more than a few words. Feature headlines are more thought-provoking and vague – “Last Taboo,” “Lost and Found,” “An Open Mind,” and “Fighting Words” – while headlines in other departments are more direct – “Rent Control,” “Buicks,” and “The Turtleneck Sweater.” From what I’ve seen, NYT Mag uses the hammer headline structure most often with a hed followed by a dek, although deks are not always used. The tone maintains a balance between being direct and vague enough to intrigue readers to keep reading.

The hed and dek give a general sense of the article without giving away too much information in order to intrigue the reader

Pull quotes are used frequently throughout the magazine, sometimes quoting the article itself and other times quoting the actual quotes within it. They are never attributed and are most often well-spoken sentences or phrases (ex: “Tragedy plus time equals comedy, they say. But they don’t say how much time.”), but sometimes are just to set the scene in an interesting way (ex: “I had looked into a room, unlike any other, and when I lifted my gaze, that room was inside Hasanaj’s brain”). These often stay within one sentence (besides features, where they can be about 1-3 sentences), so these quotes have to convey a message within a limited number of words.

One of the longer pull quotes within a feature story

Captions aren’t always used, and there isn’t much consistency throughout. Some set the scene, some show some kind of background, and others just include a name, time and place. To my knowledge, NYT Magazine does not use labels.

These captions are very straightforward, only providing the necessary information

This caption also provides basic information but has a little bit more character

Bylines are very straightforward, using “photograph by (first name) (last name)” or “illustration by (first name) (last name)” for pictures and simply “by (first name) (last name)” for stories. This plain approach works because it doesn’t leave much room for questioning and gives credit where it’s due. It’s interesting, though, that a magazine that might seem to be based on its articles gives the same level of importance to its photography.

Promos are usually short and more conversational, sometimes using only phrases rather than complete sentences. They aren’t very newsy, but they usually give the overall message of the article.

Typical promos for NYT Magazine

Department names are very simple but more creative than certain magazines might use. The first story is introduced as “First Words,” and an advice piece would be labelled as “Letter of Recommendation.” Columns where readers can ask questions are filed under “The Ethicist.” These department names are more thought-provoking and creative than other generic departments like “Eat,” “Lives,” and “Talk.”