STEP 5: Layout

Once you are absolutely certain you have completed the final edits on your content, now it’s time to lay out your essay in an attractive “magazine” format.

FIRST, get inspired. Study a magazine suitable for your essay.

SECOND, gather your visuals.

THIRD, ask yourself what’s quotable for the “pull quotes” you may use.

FOURTH, lay out your document. At this point, it will be useful to work within the desktop version of Word . From OneDrive, edit your document using the full version of Word (not Word Online). This will launch the Word desktop application on your computer.

(Why Word and not Word Online? The full version of Word will give you the additional editing functions you need to layout your design.)

NOTE: Links are available for step-by-step directions, but if those do not work for you or your version of Word, a simple Google search will help.


UNDO is your friend. Whenever you make a mistake or something goes haywire, keep calm and just “undo” the mistake. Use the “undo” arrows in the menu bar or ctrl-Z (PC) or command-Z (Mac).


When you begin inserting text boxes (pull quotes, titles, etc.) drop cap, and images, complete one page at a time in the layout process. If you finish your layout but then go back to page 1 to add another drop cap, for example, you’ll find that all of your subsequent text, text boxes, images, etc. will shift (which can be very frustrating!). Complete all your layout changes to each page, beginning on page 1, before moving to the next page.

From within Word, make the following changes to your document (in this order, one page at a time).


Space is money in magazines. Magazines will typically use as much as the space on a page as possible. Take note of how small the margins are (typically, they are about half an inch). Adjust your margins. If you don’t know how, here’s how.


What font style does your magazine use? Most magazines use a serif font similar to Times New Roman, Garamond, Georgia, etc. Change your font style.


Notice how small the font size is in most magazines. Reduce your font size to 10 or perhaps even 9 point, depending on the style of your font.


How many columns does your magazine use? Most will use either 2 or 3. Select all your text (ctrl-A or command-A) and then format your essay into columns (here’s how).


Notice how small the width is between each column in a magazine. Adjust your column width accordingly (here’s how).


You’ll notice that many magazines “justify” their text rather than the standard “left” alignment. To justify text, click the “justify” icon in the “Home” tab.


Notice the way magazines format the title and first page of a major article. Create a text box and type your title into this box (here’s how).

  • Make sure your text box wraps “square” (versus in line with the text). Select your text box by clicking it. In the menu bar, there should be an option for “Wrap Text.” Choose the one that positions your text box as “square.”
  • Make your text box bigger/smaller, depending on how much size you want it to cover on the page.
  • Format your text box so that it has no borders.
  • Adjust your title/subtitle font accordingly.
  • Optional: Fill your text box with a color (here’s how; scroll down to directions for Word). If you change the fill color of your text box, you may need to then change your font color.

Go back within your text and add your section titles (if not already there). Differentiate your section titles by font style, size, and color. Don’t forget to add the necessary space above and below each section title.

DROP cap

Consider differentiating important transition moments in your essay by using a drop-cap. Place your cursos in the paragraph where you want to create the drop-cap. Then go to “insert” and click drop cap. You may find that you need to play around with the spacing, especially if your drop cap is near another text box (image or pull quote).


Notice the way magazines integrate images. What types of images? Where? How big? How is the image spaced relative to the surrounding text? How far is the image from the margin, or is there a bleed? Add images to your essay and adjust their placement accordingly (here’s how).

Inserting pull quotes

Use a text box to create pull quotes for your essay. Use the directions above for text boxes (in the TITLE section).

Decide which passages from your essay work well as pull quotes. Copy this passage and paste it into a separate text box (Note: do not remove the passage from your essay; this is “copy and paste” not “cut and paste”). Format the font style, size, and color of the pull quote. Adjust the text box accordingly.




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