Home  Basics Search Strategies EResources Things to Try Contact

Related documents:
Periodicals (and Peer Review)
Newspapers and Their Use


Some disciplines may become more creative in their use of terms to describe the familiar periodical. Terms such as "popular magazines" are sometimes used, often accompanied by the warning that they are unacceptable resources for undergraduate assignments. These terms are seldom well-defined except in the negative, such as: popular magazines are not scholarly / academic resources. However, used appropriately, popular magazines (and newspapers and other news sources) can provide useful leads to more scholarly material by reporting on new surveys, studies and research and giving the reader enough information to delve deeper.

A periodical may be deemed to be a journal, a magazine, or a newspaper, depending upon its form and content, or it may simply be called one of those three terms, regardless of its form and content.

The word "magazine" comes from the Arabic word makhzan (makzan) meaning "storehouse". In about the seventeenth century the word magazine came to mean a "storehouse of information" and in the eighteenth century it began to be applied to items similar to twenty-first century magazines.

Many magazines are centered around a particular theme (topic) and directed toward a particular audience. Gender, age, nationality, race, ethnicity, lifestyle, status, or culture may play a part, along with shared interests, occupations, or hobbies. Sometimes geographical area or time period is important. Theme and audience will influence the cost, the frequency, the content, and many other features of a magazine. For example, Canadian Living is a monthly magazine directed toward Canadian women between 25 and 55, with families and especially with children. Its content is dominated by articles relating to crafts and home decorating, recipes, childhood problems, and weight loss. American Rider appears six times per year and is directed specifically toward "affluent" Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders. Yankee magazine is designed to appeal to those interested in the New England states and somewhat nostalgic for "traditional" lifestyles.

Top of Page


Magazines may be:

daily, weekly, monthly, bimonthly, quarterly, or yearly;

available at stores, in lobbies of public buildings, or from street vendors;

sent to a subscriber (a person who has a subscription to a magazine) through the mail or electronically;

distributed to members of an organization or association as part of a membership; and

paid or free to readers.

Magazines may:

appear in print or electronic form, or both;

appear with colourful, "glossy" (shiny and smooth) covers and use bright, white paper, or appear in "newsprint" (usually a cheaper form of paper);

be small or large in size, although most North American magazines are about 8.5 inches by 11 inches; and

be thick or thin, although most North American magazines are flexible enough to be rolled.

Magazines contain:

a table of contents which lists the articles appearing in the magazine;

articles, which use pictures (photographs, maps, and illustrations) and text (words) to create a story;

paid advertising, often in colour and relating to the theme of the magazine; and

advertising cards which can be torn out of the magazine and mailed to request further information on a product or service being advertised.

Articles in magazines include:

news articles, similar in content to newspaper articles but written in a different style;

regular columns about topics of wide interest such as: health, money, family relationships, sex, home decorating, child care, fashion;

articles which are really advertisements and try to sell a product or service to the reader; and

feature articles (similar to lead stories in a newspaper), which may be several pages long and are often on topics that readers relate to on an emotional level (they may make readers feel sad, happy, angry ...)

Articles in magazines are different than articles found in academic journals. The language in magazine articles is easier to understand. The topics are more general and more popular. The purpose of an article in a magazine is to describe an event, situation, subject, place, or person. Magazine articles are designed to entertain, persuade, or inform the reader. Usually, articles in magazines do not have references or bibliographies to tell the reader where the content of the article came from. Many articles in magazines will be written in the first person, that is, they will tell a personal story and the author will refer to herself / himself as "I". Some articles in magazines will not have an author.

Some magazines will contain mostly factual articles; some magazines will contain mostly fictional or speculative articles; some magazine will contain articles which reflect only personal opinions. Many magazines have a mix of article types.

Top of Page


This page created and maintained by Linda Hansen.
Comments and suggestions to:
Created: 2008/05/19 Last updated: 2011/12/16
Terms of Copyright
This document: ...basics/magaz.htm