Real Simple Field Notes: Typography & Words


The typeface used for body copy is both serif and sans serif typefaces. For long form feature pieces, Real Simple uses a serif font with accompanying san serif fonts for decks, cutlines, pull quotes, and sidebars. For short and punchy Front of Book pieces, Real Simple uses mostly sans serif fonts with some serif typefaces mixed throughout.

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Example: Serif Body Copy with Contrasting Sans Serif Elements


Real Simple uses a mixture of sans serif and serif fonts for headlines. For the Front of Book sections, the section title is a serif font and the headline of the story is a sans serif font. For long form feature pieces, the headlines are equally serif and sans serif fonts.


I’ve noticed that for feature pieces, Real Simple selects fonts that reflect the tone or the theme of the story. For example, a more serious story that explores health issues and organ donors uses a sans serif font in the headline. For a more playful story that features holiday recipes and decorating ideas, the headline reflects this theme with both sans serif and serif type faces that juxtapose one another and play off of the content.

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Typefaces that Reflect Content- Serious


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Typeface that Reflect Content- Holiday


The magazine uses sans serif fonts for cutlines and photo captions. And for the cover of the magazine, a sans serif font is used for both the masthead and the cover lines, but a serif typeface is used for the magazine slogan, “Life Made Easier.”

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Photo caption Example


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Real Simple Cover


For a magazine titled, “Real Simple,” the typefaces selected, and the way the typefaces are used reflects the idea of simplicity. The masthead, the cover lines, most of the headlines, and much of the body copy is a simplistic, clean, and elegant sans serif typeface. This contrasts nicely with a traditional looking serif body typeface that makes up some the magazine. This combination appeals to the target market, which is women ages 25-54 because it feels fresh and clean, and reflects the simple, efficient, and happy lifestyle one attains by reading this magazine. Overall, the typefaces reflect the mission and purpose of the publication.

Punchy and shorter front of book pieces have a modern appeal through the use of a sans serif typeface with bold elements and small doses of sophisticated colors.

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Example: Front of book sans serif with small doses of color


Long form pieces that take time to read and appreciate, work well in a serif font because it reminds the reader of a long form novel that similarly takes time to read and appreciate.

The lengthy magazine strategically uses and contrasts serif and sans serif font because it keeps the reader engaged. If the entire magazine was made of serif fonts or sans serif fonts, the reader’s eyes would get bored easily. In order for the reader to make it’s way through the entire 230+ page magazine, they need contrast to keep them awake and interested.


Real Simple does not use lengthy sentences, convoluted phrases, or high vocabulary in it’s publication. Instead, they use straightforward and familiar words in concise statements. This reflects the purpose of the magazine. This publication is meant to be educational and make your life simpler, or “life made easier,” as their slogan states. Section titles, headlines, decks, and subheads, use simple words that directly tell the viewer what they will be reading about.

The overall tone of the magazine is upbeat, friendly, orderly, straightforward. This is reflected in the design, typography, diction, and content of the magazine.