Real Simple Field Notes: Color

Real Simple’s use of color gives the magazine an upbeat and fun attitude. Color is used on every page of the magazine but it is very balanced. For example, if there is a colorful image used, then the text is only black and white. If color is used in body copy or headlines, then the images feature more subdued colors. Real Simple is very aware and does not want overwhelm readers. With the large amount of stories, content, and information presented in Real Simple, they must have a balanced approach between engaging the reader and not overpowering the reader.


A colorful image balances black text



Black and white photography is balanced with bright orange subheads.



Bright photography is balanced with black text.


Publications can use color to create hierarchy. Real Simple does this on some pages, but they rely mostly on text size to create hierarchy for stories.

The magazine is divided into 6 large sections, each with a specific graphic and color used to identify the section. This chosen color is then used for headlines, subheads, and sometimes cutlines in the story. This guides the reader through the magazine. When they see a specific color used, they know what section of the magazine they are in.


An example of a colorful graphic used to distinguish magazine sections. This periwinkle blue represents “the guide” section and is used throughout it.


Overall, Real Simple used bright colors in photographs, graphics, and text to organize information, engage the reader, and to breathe life into the magazine. Real Simple features mostly instructional or how to content, which could easily get boring, very quickly. To captivate readers and give the magazine an upbeat tone, the publication uses bright and fun colors. One could imagine Real Simple magazine lying on a coffee table in the home of a family who is well organized, but also fun, and warm. The magazine reflects these ideas and feelings through its design and use of color.


A warm, colorful cover the belongs in a warm home.