The design of The Atlantic has always been so self-effacing, so quietly subordinate to the magazine’s stories, essays, and poems, that it seems somehow out of keeping to draw your attention to the redesign in your hands. But it deserves an introduction. This new design, the result of more than a year’s preparation, grew out of concerns expressed by our readers and staff that the layout seemed a little too humble. We wanted each section, and the magazine as a whole, to convey the same clarity, coherence, and force as its best writing. With that as his mandate, our art director, Jason Treat, set out to give the reader both more reason to pause and more encouragement to press ahead—to make The Atlantic both more visually arresting and easier to page through. His overarching goal, he said, was for “the aesthetics of the magazine to match the power of its content—to be ambitious, thought-provoking, and original.”
The logo and the basic geometry of the cover remain the same. It is inside the magazine that you will notice changes, some of them subtle, others more striking. Among the latter, the most obvious is the introduction of illustrated tables of contents—yes, that’s tables, plural. In the interest of simplicity—saving readers from having to flip through several pages to figure out what is where, and where is what—we have returned to what was once our standard practice: a single page enumerating all the contents. We are calling this “The Issue in Brief,” and it appears in this issue on page 10.
In something of a departure from tradition, we have added a new, two-page photographic spread at the front of the magazine, partly to give exceptional photography more prominence. This spread is also meant to call attention to the stories we believe most distinguish The Atlantic: the long-form narrative features and essays that make up what we call “the well.” Our cover usually focuses on just one of these stories, shining a spotlight that, at least by contrast and implication, has tended to leave the others in shadow. This new spread will allow us to give dramatic display to another feature, in this issue to Amy Waldman’s chronicle of the reinvention of New Orleans’s schools.
Behind the well, you will find another photo spread, this one presenting a fuller version of the contents of the magazine’s third section, “The Critics.” Beginning with this issue, we have combined our book reviews with the pieces in what we had called “Pursuits & Retreats,” uniting our strongest critical voices in one section devoted to books, culture, technology, and travel. In each issue, the picture for this introductory spread will be drawn from one of the pieces in the section; this time, it is an illustration for Toby Lester’s essay about the villages of Alsace-Lorraine.
Careful readers will notice other changes. Mark Steyn’s obituary column has returned from the back of the magazine to its original home in “The Agenda,” which now also houses the “Calendar” feature. Feature stories now open in a large type size, on spreads that more fully integrate art with text. The folio information—page number, story title, and so forth—has risen from the bottom of each page to the top corner, to make the magazine easier to navigate. In the same spirit, a summary now appears near the top of each story’s opening page, above rather than below the headline. For all headlines, Treat has brought out of retirement the typeface Bauer Bodoni, which The Atlantic used in the past. For the body of stories, he has switched to Miller Text, an easily read and elegant font.
Readers will also note, we hope, what hasn’t changed: that the design remains in the service of the writing, and the writing in the service of ideas, wit, and truth, as best we can determine it.
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