8 Time-Saving Tips for Creating a Flatplan for Your Magazine


If you're planning to create a magazine for your brand, there's one tool you should not overlook -- the flatplan. A flatplan is essentially a visual representation of how a magazine will be laid out. It is usually one or two pages that contains all of the pages from the magazine on it (represented by smaller squares), and it can show editorial teams how readers will encounter the magazine's layout and give them a good idea of the flow of the magazine. If you want to create a flatplan for your magazine, but you're not sure how, check out the tips below. These time-saving ideas can help ensure that your flatplan adds real value without increasing the complexity of the publishing process.

1. Try Color Coding

When creating your flat plan, try color coding the sections of the magazine. This means that squares representing the pages of one section will all be one color -- and a different color from the pages of a separate section.

2. Use Templates

If you've created a flatplan for your magazine before, save that as a template and then re-use that template the next time you create a flatplan. Reusing your template is a huge timesaver if your magazine comes out in a similar format each month. It gives you somewhere to start from which you can add, delete and edit pages as needed.

3. Use Flatplanning Software

Today, there are many digital solutions for creating flatplans. Two of the most popular are Blinkplan and Intelligent Flatplan. These flatplan platforms allow you to create your own customized flatplans easily without the work required to create your own template.

4. Set Deadlines

When you create your flatplan, add deadlines to each page so that writers and editors know when their pages have to be finished. Flatplans are a good visual reminder of when work needs to be done.

5. Keep All Content in a Central Location

Once you assign stories and pieces, create folders for those stories and then store them somewhere central where everyone can access them. That way, multiple people can work on aspects of the same stories at once (photos, text, etc.), and you can easily check on the status of the pieces that have been assigned.

6. Automate Your Advertisements

If you have ad management software that you use, try to integrate it with your flatplanning software. If you have areas of your magazine designated for ads, advertisers can automatically deliver their ads as PDFs into your flatplan -- taking away an extra step of work for you.

7. Look at Examples

If you're not sure where to get started creating your own flatplan, it can help to look at the flatplan of a magazine that you've liked or enjoyed. This can help you understand how to get from the planning stage to the production stage. If you want to look at some helpful examples, here are several from Offscreen Magazine and MagazineDesigning.com.

8. Share New Flatplans as They Change

Your flatplan will undoubtedly change as you work. Each time there's a major shift in the flatplan (stories get shortened, advertisers drop out, etc.), print out a new version and post it in your office. You should also distribute them to everyone working on the project. Keeping everyone abreast of the updated flatplan ensures that everyone is on the same page (no pun intended) about the flow of the magazine as they create, and it can help ensure that you don't encounter any unexpected issues when it's time to send the magazine to the printer.

If you want to create a magazine that makes sense and flows well, making a flatplan is an unmissable step. Once you've laid out your magazine so that the content makes sense and looks good together, you can ensure that it will be one that your readers will enjoy consuming, too.

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