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The New York Times Magazine Table of Contents: Innovations issue, June 2012

Work / Graphic Design

How and why the New York Times mag plays with its contents page

First impressions, as all our mums told us, should not be trusted but as we grow up we learn they are completely unavoidable. So the design team at The New York Times magazine doesn’t take it lightly when they decide to create a new contents page for their special editions, but they are convinced it’s an important and worthwhile exercise.

In an interesting post on the magazine’s 6th Floor Blog, the magazine’s art director Gail Bichler writes: “Designers constantly face the risk of readers reacting negatively in knee-jerk fashion to design decisions. (Reactions to text, which takes more time to digest, tend to be more considered.) But it’s a risk that’s important to take. As one of the first things a reader sees in the magazine, the T.O.C. is a chance to signify that each article is part of a larger package. A T.O.C. redesign is also a way to push one step further the visual vocabulary we’ve created for the features.”

It’s interesting to see some of the different iterations of the TOC and cheering to find out that these kind of risks are still taken.

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The New York Times Magazine Table of Contents: New York issue, September 2006

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The New York Times Magazine Table of Contents: Year in Ideas issue, December 2006

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The New York Times Magazine Table of Contents: Architecture issue, May 2007

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The New York Times Magazine Table of Contents: Green issue, April 2009

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The New York Times Magazine Table of Contents: OScare issue, December 2010

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The New York Times Magazine Table of Contents: Voyages issue, June 2011