National Geographic uses a custom font, NatGeo SemiBold for its magazine cover and story text. NatGeo SemiBold is a serif font, which features small lines attached to the letters’ strokes. The cover text along with the yellow box is instantly recognizable, and creates a strong brand image.
The photo captions are san serifs (without lines) and in some cases, bolded. Using a different font for the captions calls the readers attention to the caption. Under the caption, in even smaller font is the photo credit in all caps. Again, this further differentiates the credit so the reader knows it is separate from the caption.
In the full page photo spreads, the captions are strategically placed to blend into the photograph, but still visible enough to read. Since the photograph is the main attraction, the small caption doesn’t distract from the image. The captions pictures here are also in white. In the photo on the left (wolves) the color makes the caption pop against the background. In the right image (water), the caption is still visible, but blends into the sky so as not to distract the reader of the impact of the photo.
Titles for stories are larger and bolder to alert the reader that they are starting a feature. In this story, an powerful image is paired with NatGeo Semibold in all caps. The dek is smaller and italicized to tell the reader what the story is about.
The magazine also uses size to mark the beginning of a new story. In this example, the ‘P’ in park is significantly larger than the body copy. The reader knows a new story starts here.