Field Notes | The Nation | Week 2 – Organization


After examining several covers of The Nation, the purpose of the cover is to highlight the most important article of the issue and provide readers with an illustration to go along with it.

The Nation tends towards cover that feature a cartoon, usually political. This illustration supports the main story of that issue and is accompanied with a large cover line for that central story. The cover image is used to introduce the reader to the main article of the issue.

The nameplate is at the top third of the magazine and is usually red but occasionally black depending on the cover illustration. The font of the nameplate is a sans serif font and includes a period at the end. The period at the end of the nameplate in addition to the political illustration on the cover emphasize The Nation’s purpose: to inform readers about the latest news in the U.S.

In addition to the main cover line, there are usually two smaller cover lines in an uppercase font at the top of the cover above the nameplate. The cover lines are usually a sans serif font, contrasting with the serif font of the nameplate. These contrast with the other cover lines and nameplate because they are in all uppercase and bolder than the other text.


Looking at the cover of The Nation, your eye is first drawn to the main cover line and accompanying illustration, then the red nameplate, and finally the smaller cover lines at the top. The magazine is signaling to its readers to look at the main story first. The red of the nameplate adds a pop and stands out as the name of the magazine. The smaller cover lines sit at the top to draw the reader further into the magazine.

Consistency is maintained from one issue to the next by continuing the same basic hierarchy. Each cover features the nameplate at the top, larger cover line about the main story and illustration to go along with it, and several additional cover lines at the top.

The cover of each issue of The Nation is usually about a political topic. Although political topics would usually seem to be more serious, the illustration for the main story on the cover lightens the attitude of the piece, like the cover below.

Table of Contents

The table of contents does not have its own page in The Nation. It is alongside a front-of-book piece as a side bar and is only on one page. It does not include any images.


Going along with their political nature, the different sections of The Nation only include Up Front, Features, and Books & the Arts. The regular features are in the middle of the magazine and differ each issue.


The Nation has a simple marker running at the top of all the pages. It contains the page number at the outside edge, the nameplate in the middle of the page, and the issue date on the inside. These three parts are connected with a light line. It doesn’t change for each section and is consistent throughout the entire magazine.


One Comment

  1. I’m super glad you picked this magazine, as I’m enjoying getting to know it quite a bit. I love their small rebellions: dog-leg columns, folios at the top of the page, understated TOC.

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