Doing Magazines

What Are Magazines?

Magazines are paperback booklets filled with articles, photos, and advertisements released at regular intervals (e.g. on a monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly basis).

Why Use Magazines for HIV & AIDS Education?

Magazines are able to appeal to the masses through their uses of colloquial language and attractive, influential imagery. Given that magazines are made to interest particular audiences, they often have more leeway than other publications, such as newspapers, and are able to print pieces of a more opinionated or sensitive nature. As a result of these characteristics, magazines have the potential to raise great awareness to HIV&AIDS issues. They can provide vital facts and information to readers that will both inspire and enlighten.


    ✓ Over the years, magazines have proven to be popular amongst youth audiences – most commonly in the western world – therefore being a definite method for raising youth awareness
    ✓ Magazines can cover a broad range of topics, ensuring that multiple subjects are introduced to readers
    ✓ Magazines thrive on reader contributions, allowing for youth participation
    ✓ Over time, a magazine can grow and evolve with its desired demographic, making way for an expanded variety of subject matter
    ✓ Magazines can be created as a class project, as a community affair, or as an individual effort


    x Magazine production can require much time and effort
    x A budget is almost always necessary when developing a magazine to allow for costs such as printing
    x Certain communities may not have the resources required for creating and publishing a magazine

Magazine Forms and Formats

Magazines can be separated into two basic categories: general interest magazines and scholarly journals. General interest magazines tend to focus on pop-culture, using flashy headlines and alluring pictures to draw in readers. Articles in general interest magazines tend to be written by freelance writers and journalists but are not limited to such. Scholarly journals are much more formal and include researched findings that have been conducted in the world of academia. Information from scholarly journals may serve as a wonderful source for articles in general interest magazines, bringing news from the academic society straight to the public.

Making a Magazine

Before Getting Started: Things to Keep in Mind

The work involved in putting a magazine together is substantial. When starting, it is wise to decide by whom the magazine will be read and what type of content the magazine will offer. For example, if the desired audience is youth, and the content involved is HIV/AIDS awareness, then the founding blocks of the magazine have been chosen, and from there the project may take shape.

Building a Team and Gathering Participants

Having a team with whom to share the work is beneficial for several reasons. Dividing tasks between group members can help to speed up the process as well as to ensure a diverse compilation of works. Furthermore, including multiple participants is a great way of spreading knowledge and raising awareness. To put a team together, one may ask friends and family, as well as community leaders, neighbors, and teachers. As a community-based project, participants can be gathered on a volunteer-basis. The wider the variety of people to take part in the project, the more learning will take place.

Reader participation is also crucial to the success of a magazine. Allowing readers to have their stories, information, and opinions printed in the magazine will help to increase community involvement, which is a tremendous accomplishment for any social change project.

Developing Content

The content must be interesting and educational to the target audience. Various subjects and assignments can be split up between team members, creating a mosaic of topics. Some ideas for content:

  • Researched articles with data to inform the readers
  • Stories from the community involving the chosen theme
  • Current news about social change projects, both close to home and worldwide
  • Photographs of similarly-themed art in the community
  • Book reviews on stories that incorporate the chosen theme

There is no end to the type of content that may be included in the magazine. The best way to decide on appropriate content is to know the target audience.

Budget & Distribution

There are a number of costs to take into account when developing a magazine. Provided the team members are satisfied to work on a volunteer-basis, expenses will include the materials required for gathering content, as well as the price of printing and distributing a magazine. Not-for-profit organizations may sometimes receive grants from governments, or funding from larger businesses. Another way to minimize expenses is by networking with local shops and companies, and having them place advertisements in the magazine. Such ventures could then in turn help with the cost of printing the magazine.

Having a magazine that is without cost to the reader is useful when educating the public. Many communities struck by HIV/AIDS are also struck by poverty, so allowing free access to information will help to ensure that the magazines are read. It is for this reason that innovative ideas for funding are crucial when developing an informative awareness magazine.

In terms of distribution, magazines may be presented to the public by the local businesses that endorse them. For more easy access, readers may also pick up magazines from community centers, libraries, and schools.

Layout and Design

Magazine layouts are very important when it comes to communication. The design and layout of a magazine may be done by hand or by existing computer software.

Layout by Hand:

Layouts that are done by hand must be taken care of meticulously so that the content of the magazine is easily communicable. It is also important that the page order does not get mixed up during the printing process.

To layout pages by hand, scissors and glue are useful tools. Paying attention to aesthetics is a good idea, for a professional looking magazine has a better chance of being taken seriously by the audience. It is also vital to number the pages, so that they are printed and bound in order.

Once the pages have been laid out, they may be sent off to the printer.

Layout by Computer Program:

There are many existing software programs that can facilitate magazine layout. Adobe InDesign and Photoshop are two commonly used programs that are equipped with convenient templates and tools. Equipment such as a computer, scanner, and computer printer are required when doing layout with such software.

Again, once the pages have been laid out, they may be sent off to the printer.


There are hundreds of printing companies that specialize in magazine printing. Many of these companies can be accessed over the Internet, making the printing process hassle-free. Some websites to visit:

Once the Magazine is Finished…

To keep the project alive once it has been completed, consider taking pictures of team members while they collaborate and post these on a website to document the efforts involved. Copies of the magazine may also be donated to libraries, schools, archives, and community centers to keep as a future reference.

Incorporating Multiple Art Methodologies
Blending various art forms can have a powerful impact on the project at hand, as well as enhance the final product. Some art forms that can be incorporated with magazines include:

  • Poetry
  • Books & Novels
  • Storytelling
  • Newsletters
  • Narrative Writing
  • Comics
  • Collage Art

*Magazines can provide coverage on many different art methodologies*

World Wide Web: Existing HIV/AIDS Magazines

Youth A.R.T. : Art, Research and Training Initiative (March 2009) Retrieved May 2010, from

AIDS Action (1987-2006) Retrieved July 2007, from

A&U America’s AIDS Magazine (n.d.) Retrieved July 2007, from

Living Positive (2001-2006) Retrieved July 2007, from

POZ: Health, Life, and HIV (2007) Retrieved July 2007, from

San Fransisco AIDS Foundation: BETA (n.d.) Retrieved July 2007, from

Magazines and Social Change Bibliography

AIDS Action (1987-2006) Retrieved July 2007, from

LiBretto, Elle V. High/Low Handbook: Encouraging Literacy in the 1990s (3rd Ed.). (1990). New York: R.R. Bowker