Field Notes – bon appétit – Language

The way that a magazine attracts its readers has a big deal to do with the language they employ.

Image of the February 2019 bon appétit cover.

Image of the February 2019 bon appétit cover.

The name of the magazine

I believe that the name of the magazine was apt for this publication as it does the job of effectively communicating what the magazine will cover, which is good. “Bon appétit” means is a French translation which means “enjoy your meal.”

In Western culture, at least in North America, companies that have “European-sounding” names are viewed as being superior. This coupling leads me to believe that bon appétit wanted its readers to think that this was a high-quality magazine about all things food. Though, the nameplate being lowercased leads me to think that they also wished to seem modern and approachable.



Type of headlines used 

Inside the February 2019 issue.

The headlines in the magazine are typically short, sometimes “tongue-in-cheek-ish” or “punny” but whatever the case, the reader will know right away what the following article will be about.

For example, this article (shown in the spread to the right), discusses the ways that fast food enthusiast can can replicate their favorite dishes at home with the tips and recipes provided on the next spread.


An example of a pull quote in the February 2019 issue.

Pull quotes

Given that the magazine tends to focus on recipes, gadgets and the like, there aren’t very many pull quotes used, especially since the articles are short. Pull quotes are very far and in between and used only in stories which land on more than one spread and features an interview with a celebrity or chef.

In this issue, I only found pull quotes in two articles.



Inside the February 2019 issue on page 69.

Cutlines, captions and labels 

In this example, the photography caption was sneakily placed vertically along the inner margin. It was treated in a thin Futura typeface in what looks like 8pts.

The labels for each mini-story were treated in different weights and two types of typefaces to be distinctive but also to help with establishing hierarchy.


Bylines and credit lines

As we can tell from the spread of the burger above, the bylines and credit lines, when not buried in the margin as the previous image shows, it is placed in finer weight and size than the main font and offset. The phrases used are “by” and “photographs by” for story credit and photography, respectively.


Promos and refers conversational 

The promos and refers are conversational in nature. They are short and fun in language as well as styling. Most times, they are also accompanied with a page number to direct the interested reader.

Image shows the table of content in the February 2019 issue of bon appétit.

Image shows the table of content in the February 2019 issue of bon appétit.


Section/department/feature names

The magazine is divided the sections into four parts called “Home,” “Away,” “Basically,” and “The Last Bite.” I think that these section names are pretty broad which allows the team to discuss topics of a wide range. For example, the home section had articles in it from buying a rice cooker to how to set up for a party.

Basically, promotes their new spin-off which is a website for recipes targeted at millennials who love fancy food and restaurants but don’t know how to cook. While “The Last Bite” serves as the back of the book featuring celebrity advice/Q&As.