Real Simple Field Notes: Furniture

As the name suggests, Real Simple’s furniture is very simple. There are a few reoccurring elements that include lines, arrows, and section graphics.

Lines of varying weights and designs are used throughout the publication. They are used mostly to divide and organize information. The lines work well because they almost go unnoticed, but still help to guide the reader. They are understated, but purposeful. The lines do not take away from the content, but rather, enhance the organization.


Lines used to divide information



Use of contrasting dashed lines and thick lines to divide information.



Lines used to divide products


Arrows are used to make information stand out, but they are never used alone and therefore seem unnecessary. They are used in combination with text that is bold, colorful, or in a unique font, which already makes the subhead, body copy, or caption stand out. The arrow is used to capture the reader’s attention or point to something that could go unnoticed. But the designers ensure that information will be noticed because of the contrast in design (whether it’s varying weights, color, differing fonts), and therefore it is redundant.


Use of small arrow as an additional entry point. This seems redundant when bold text is already being used.


Unnecessary use of an arrow



Real Simple uses small, colorful icons, or section graphics to break up the magazine into its various sections. There is a unique icon for each section including, “your words,” “the realist,” “life lessons,” “the guide,” and “food.” These section graphics, which use unique colors and graphics, are first introduced to the reader in the table of contents, and then carried out throughout each section. This element guides the reader as they read the magazine in or out of order. Real Simple is a lengthy publication, with many pages of thick content. This small piece of furniture is essential to guiding the reader and breaking large chunks of information. Each section has subsections and several stories within each section or subsection,


Close Up of section graphic for “Life Lessons”



The Section graphic for “The Guide”