Plaiting Fog

How many times is it necessary to move things about when finalising the layout of a magazine?  The answer has to be ‘far too many’.  It’s a totally fluid and ‘fog’ like beast for the first couple of weeks of laying it out.

You think you have it all worked out – based on what people have booked in and confirmed that they’ll send you.  Having said that rather like an airline, we overbook by about 120% as we know from bitter-experience that people often ‘forget’ or leave things just too late.

When we start to get things ready for printing, the magazine starts to be designed and laid out, this time as a high resolution pdf file – all ready for it to go by email to the printers.

We usually start at the front, just occasionally if the back of the magazine is more complete then will go from the back to the front.

When we start we may still be waiting for details for adverts, or completed adverts to arrive, these do not cause too many problems as they are all made to a very specific size and can then be slipped in a little later.  Everything else is far more difficult.  This is why our editorial deadline is set a few days before our advertising one, as this is where the surprises lurk.

If we’ve an article booked in and we’ve planned to put at the start of the magazine and it’s not here then we will probably have to swap this for something that we’ve received and that we can see will fit in the booked space.  So p.8 may then become p.78 and vice versa.

If instead we just leave a hole where the missing article would have been, and work past it, we may have the problem of it arriving later and not fitting the space we’ve left.  All of which gets harder to amend as we have more of the layout fixed and final design work done.

Adverts can move – maybe an article arrives that has a relevance to a particular advert or maybe we have an ‘accounting’ issue and we move the advert to a position where its last minute removal will not cause so many problem.

At some point we end up working also from the back of the magazine and  so we usually end up with, somewhere in the middle, what we lovingly call the ‘naughty-pages’ those that we cannot confirm and finish to the last minute. 

Every edition feels, for a while, like we are plaiting fog and it feels nothing ‘less than a miracle’ when we come out the other side and the final design is worked out.

Anna Atkinson