The primary colors that Time magazine uses are black, white, gray and the signature red. Their consistency in using these colors helps maintain their brand identity as a serious and respectable news source. In headlines and display type, a wide range of hues is used, including orange, green, blue, yellow, and purple.
The importance of color to create hierarchy is emphasized in the table of contents. Red is used for section titles on the two sides, while the story titles are in black. The major feature stories are in the middle column, where the typeface is larger than in the two half-columns. The features titles are in black, and the short story explanations are in gray. Black is a stronger color than gray, thus immediately causing the reader’s eyes to go to the titles. The feature story numbers are in red, which helps to build contrast and ensure that the readers go to the most important stories first.
The title of the cutlines is frequently set apart in a different color, usually in white or red and/or a heavier weight. This helps create organization and makes the cutline stand out, without being overpowering. Sometimes the color of the cutline/cutline title is coordinated to match the color of the headline, creating a general cohesiveness. Pull quotes are often set apart in a heavier weight, or in a color that matches the headline/color accents on the page.
The page in the top left corner is a great example of the way color is used to create organization and hierarchy. The titles of the sections on the left-hand column are in red, as is the half-circle on the top right of the page, matching the lipstick and shirt of the woman in the photograph. The background of the photograph is turquoise, creating a fun vibe overall. The colors of the text and the photograph are in harmony with one another, creating a more lighthearted atmosphere on this page. This is in contrast with more serious news stories, where the colors are more muted, such as in the top right page. The important words are pulled out in black in the deck, contrasting with the gray that is used for the remainder of the words. The black is also used for the headline and the drop cap, creating connections on the page.
The spread above is another good example where the photograph colors compliment the text. Once again, black is used to highlight the title of the story, and to stand out next to the gray. The byline is also in black, to create contrast, but is in a smaller typeface in order to be less attention-grabbing. The combination of colors in the text and the photograph evoke a playful mood in this context.
Overall, colors are used appropriately in Time magazine, such that brighter colors are often used with more lighthearted stories, while more muted colors are used with more serious stories. This shows that Time magazine makes sure to give serious issues their due, solidifying its legitimacy as a news source.