Article Types: What's the Difference Between Newspapers, Magazines, and Journals?

Characteristics of a Magazine Article

Example of print magazine

Life Magazine
(an example of a magazine)

Analyzing a Magazine Article

Magazine Article Characteristics

Authors: Author names may or may not be listed. Many magazine articles are written by the magazine editors or staff writers and may not attribute responsibility to individual authors. Those articles that do list authors typically do not give the author qualifications.

Frequency of Publication: Magazines typically publish monthly or more frequently (there are exceptions). Magazines routinely will use specific dates on their issues, such as December 14, 2008, or July 2008.

Use of Everyday Language: Magazine articles are typically written with the average reader in mind, so the language used is easily read and simple to understand.

Use of Illustrations and Photographs: Articles published in magazines frequently are illustrated with drawings or photographs, often in full color. Other publications might also include illustrative materials, but magazines are the most likely types of publications to include them.

Bibliography: Bibliographies are typically not included in magazine articles or, if they are included, are usually fairly brief.

Brevity: Magazine articles tend to be much shorter than articles from journals. An article might be half a page or even a dozen pages, but typically not much longer than a dozen. Pictures are often interspersed throughout the text so the actual text, even for a 12-page article, would amount to far less than a dozen pages.

Subject Focus: Magazines might cover a wide variety of interests or might focus a particular interest. For example, magazines like Time and Newsweek will cover current events, politics, entertainment, art, music, a wide variety of interests. Articles might take note of research being done in medicine, for example, but they stop short of actually providing the full details of the research being done. Magazines like Car and Driver and Popular Science will focus on specific areas of interest, but the articles that they publish are geared toward the casual reader or to readers with more than a passing interest in a subject, rather than to academics and scholars.

Advertisements: Magazines usually include numerous product advertisements. Advertisements might be for beauty aids, or automobiles, or computers, or just about anything. Some ads might be full page or even could consist of several pages included as an advertising insert or supplement.

Overall Appearance: Magazines are typically published in full color on glossy or semi-glossy paper. Magazine covers are slick and appealing and often provide highlights of big stories that will draw a reader's attention.

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