Field Notes | The New York Times Magazine | Week 6—Furniture

One of the largest pieces of furniture I noticed were the front of book and back of book pages. Both of these sections rely on a template that is altered only by the content put in it. For example, “The Thread,” which is The NYT Magazine’s version of letters to the editor, uses the same layout every week. It uses the vertical lines between columns, thicker horizontal lines above titles and italics for a short description about what the letters are referring to. There are also several cartoons throughout that serve as visuals to break up the package. They all refer to one of the letters in the section. This same templated approach is used in the back of book page, “Puzzles.” This is the same every week with a spelling puzzle, two number puzzles and a crossword. This page is pretty set in the package and only changes with the content of the puzzles. The heds of these puzzles are also stylized all the same with the slab serif display type from throughout the rest of the magazine.


Another key piece of furniture is the end of story notation, which is a small black diamond. This signals the completion of all stories so readers know whether they need to continue turning the page. If there is a continuation, it is noted with an italic setting of the phrase “Continued on page xx.” On those continued pages, the italics are the same but they say “Continued from page xx” and also have a bold setting of a familiar phrase about the story. For example, the cover story about Mitch McConnell is noted with the simple bold type “McConnell.”


Another key piece of furniture is the pull quote. This style is consistent throughout the whole issue, except for feature stories which get a special treatment for pull quotes. Other than that, they are all treated with the slab serif display type and are left aligned in the small column. This is great way to break up space and give the reader multiple points of entry into the story.


The bylines and credits are all set with in NYT Sans Serif typeface. This same treatment is applied to any other information that is paired with the story. For example, the call for questions for “The Ethicist” and other columns is set in that type in the small column that’s used throughout all the stories.

This example image also has a key piece of furniture, the folio. This is just a page number in bold with the date next to it in a lighter weight. This simple treatment still alerts the reader to where they are in the publication and does its job effectively.


The columns end with a short bio about the writer. This is stylized with the thick horizontal black line, bold sans serif text at the start for the writer’s name and then the bio content is in italicized NYT Serif. This treatment is applied to any information about writers and its placement at the end of columns helps signify that this is an opinion piece and gives further information about their qualifications to speak on this topic. This signpost helps readers understand the difference between opinion content and normal reporting stories.


The recipes throughout the magazine have a similar treatment to the columnist bios, which further ensures readers associate this visual style of the thick horizontal line and sans serif type with asides within the story. Readers hopefully gather that these are not pieces that are meant to be read in line with the whole piece, but are rather extra bits of juicy information they can pull aside for later.


All the stories have vertical lines that divide the columns throughout the piece. The feature packages have stylized lines that further emphasize the importance/special nature of these stories.


Finally, The NYT Magazine uses these small illustrations at the start of some of their columns and short stories to point out that this might not be a straightforward news piece. I think this is successful because the illustration adds an element of playfulness that newsy pieces don’t always go hand-in-hand with. By employing this more fun style, it emphasizes the purpose of the storytelling element.