Frequently asked questions

These are the sort of questions that visitors to the site ask. If you have a question, take a look here first. If the answer is not here or you need clarification, e-mail me at:

tony[a] NB: replace the [a] with @ in the email address.

How do I get listed on Magforum?

First of all, the site is put together by hand and everything is processed by the editor, Tony Quinn. So a query to tony -at- will normally get the answer. Please be careful with your subject – be specific to avoid being automatically deleted as spam!

  • To get a publishing company listed: send in information about the company with media packs, list of titles, etc. Contact tony -at- for postal address.
  • To get a magazine listed in the launch pages: send in a copy with the media pack. All the listings are based on actual copies of magazines. Contact tony -at- for postal address.
  • To correct, add to case studies or anything else: just send in an email. Contributions welcome.

How do I reference web pages?

Colleges and universities will insist that you identify where all facts, opinions, information, etc, come from with a list of references. You should check with your course, but a common form of referencing is the Harvard APA system. With this, the citation to use in your list of references should be:
  • Surname, I. (year retrieved) 'Title of page'. Retrieved: month day, year. Full page address (URL)
  • The author for all the Magforum web pages (unless stated otherwise) is Tony Quinn. The date of last updating is at the bottom of each page. So the reference for this page would be:
  • Quinn, A. (2008) 'Frequently asked questions.' Retrieved: February 1, 2008.

Within the text of your work, you would cite the reference as Quinn (2008). Portsmouth university has a guide to using the APA system.

Can I quote from Magforum pages?

The content on Magforum is copyright. However, you have a right to quote from its pages as long as the material is acknowledged and you do not use a lot of it. For a website, you can simply write 'source:' and add a link. For academic reports, you should employ the usual academic style with Anthony Quinn as the author, eg:

Quinn, A (2007) 'Can I use Magforum pages for my work/website?', Frequently Asked Questions, Magforum (; accessed 24 July 2007

If you want permission to use whole pages on your website, it will depend on who you are and what you want to do with it! Commercial sites may be charged.

I need to know magazine launch dates

Question: I am doing research into food advertising and how advertisers use appeals to science to sell their products. I need to know the launch dates of Sky (TV) Magazine, ASDA Magazine, Sainsbury's Magazine, Somerfield Magazine, SAGA Magazine and Waitrose Food Illustrated but am finding them hard to come by. Do you know any source for this information? I must be able to reference the source and hence it has to be 'official'. – Berwyn Jones dissertation for MSc in Science Communication at Imperial College London.

Answer: The best sources for such dates are British Rates and Data (BRAD), a monthly directory, Willings Press Guide and Benn's Media (the final two are annuals). Seek them in a library. However, the entries they publish do not always give launch dates. Another potential source is the archive of websites such as the Guardian, Media UK, Media Week and Press Gazette (Links). Access to an archive database for such titles such as Factiva is very useful for checking – none of these sources is perfect.

Be careful what dates you quote (Magforum uses cover dates). For example, a news-stand title with the cover date January 2007, will have come out in December 2006, or even November 2006! This is not – usually – the case with contract titles but it does mean you have to be careful making direct comparisons.

The answers I gave were:

  • Sky (TV) Magazine Oct 1988 by BBC/Redwood;
  • ASDA Magazine 1995 (there had been a title called Hi-Time in 1986);
  • Sainsbury's Magazine in May 1993;
  • Somerfield Magazine – unable to be precise but was being published early in 1995
  • SAGA Magazine 1984;
  • Waitrose Food Illustrated appeared from John Brown with a May 1999 cover date (it was in the shops at the end of April) but in fact it was a relaunch of the news-stand title Food Illustrated, which was launched with an April 1998 cover date.

Where can I find cover images?

Question: Just been on the site, and i saw that on request you may give some hi-res mag covers. Would you be able to email me the first ever cover of Heat (the one with Johnny Vaughan), Star, Now and Closer? It'd be a big help to me if you could cos i'm doing a presentation on them for a postgrad course i do. Cheers, Chris.

Answer: Magforum has hundreds of images, including these four. It is particularly good on launches in the UK in the past decade. Most of the images online are 110-pixel wide JPEGs to keep download times short, but I often have a high-res version. You can email to request a copy. On Google, search on "the magazine name +magforum" using the Images option to see if I have a specific image. To see all the images, use " +jpg". This file pulls up about 150 images (unless you have broadband this may take a couple of minutes). If what you want is not there, it's worthwhile asking because there's a stack of stuff I never get round to doing!

To find an image, try the following:

  • The magazine publisher's website.
  • Some magazines have image archives. These can be searched for online
  • Then there is a raft of other places to try:
    • Galactic Central has one of the biggest caches with images listed by title alphabetically across 100+ pages. Biggest strength is US pulp magazines. There is often more than one cover per title. Click on each image for a larger version
    • is a US-only database of mainly US cover images
    • Commercial online poster galleries. has an archive that includes covers and pages from Good Housekeeping, London Herald, Redbook, Saturday Evening Post and Vogue
    • Magazines have fan sites, such as Weed's for zines, such as Oz, Class War and punk fanzines
    • Commercial image archives such as Hulton Getty and the Advertising Archives will often hold cover images
    • The Magforum pages on The Secrets of Magazine Cover Design have some links about covers
    • Search using the image options of more than one search engine; it very quickly shows you how poor search engines really are when AltaVista and Google produce such different results!
  • Take a look at the Magforum magazine Links page for inspiration

To save any image from the web, right-click on it on a PC, or Ctrl-click on a Mac. The menu that comes up will have the option 'Save image as' to store it on your hard disc. Simply pick your folder and save it be careful how you use it though because of the copyright laws. The first thing to do is check with the site owner.

Which are the best-selling magazines?

Question: I am a student studying media communications at Bath Spa University College. I am doing an assignment involving the most popular and prestigious male and female monthly magazines. I was wondering if you could help me by sending me information concerning the five most popular men's monthly magazines and the five most popular women's monthly magazines including their circulation figures as I am having extreme difficulty in finding them for both genders. This would be very much appreciated.

Answer: Your question requires interpretation. I'll start off by assuming you want the titles with the highest circulations among those such as FHM and Elle. Finding this in the UK is quite easy to do. (If you want magazines in other countries, carry on reading, because things tend to work in the same way). Go to the Magforum magazine links page.

Click on the link for the ABC – the Audit Bureau of Circulations, which audits the circulation of newspapers, magazines and websites in the UK. From the home page, look for the ABC Data button at the top left, then drill down through the consumer mag data:

Magazine Data/Consumer Magazines/

Next, scroll down the list and, for general men's magazines, select Men's Lifestyle and press Search.

A list will come up of the 17 magazines listed in this category, arranged alphabetically. To list them in circulation order click Re-sort Using This Field in the turquoise Key box near the top of the page. You can then save the page (Ctrl + S) or print it out (Ctrl + P). Notice that men's monthlies and weeklies are mixed.

The figures are for the most recent six-monthly circulation period and are free. You have to pay to see historical figures, although they can often be found on the web.

Women's magazines are listed in 13 categories as Women's Interests. You are probably after the Women's Lifestyle/Fashion category (Cosmopolitan, etc).

If you wanted all magazines, select All and wait a minute for the data to come up.

Be careful how you interpret the data. When you list the women's titles by circulation, you might see that Debenhams Desire is at the top – yet you've never heard of it. This is where you have to understand the difference between circulation and sales.

The US ABC site works in a similar way at:

What are the most popular magazines?

The word 'popular' needs defining. It might mean highest circulation, or most read, or either of these for a specific group of people. For example, the Radio Times is one of the best-selling magazines, but Top of the Pops would be more popular (in all senses of the word) among teenage girls.

What are the most prestigious titles?

What does prestigious mean? It is a 'qualitative' word, so it is difficult to measure. FHM may sell more copies than Vogue, but is it more prestigious? Some factors that might be used to measure prestige include:
  • how long has it been published?
  • what it the quality of the paper, writing, photography, etc?
  • who reads it (basically, the more money or influence readers have, the more attractive they are to advertisers)?

Are circulation and sales the same?

Free newspapers and magazines have long been available. The circulation of these is also audited by organisations such as the ABC. So, in the UK, the top 10 magazines by circulation are all free (they are customer magazines given to, for example, members of the Automobile Association). If you are unsure of a title, you can click through to see a copy of the actual ABC certificate. This breaks down circulation into:

  • newstrade sales: through newsagents and supermarkets;
  • single copy subscriptions: individuals pay in advance and have copies posted to their home/office;
  • multiple copy subscriptions: these are usually discounted to companies;
  • regular bulk sales: these might be to a company;
  • one-off bulk sales: usually to a company, eg, to coincide with an exhibition;
  • sales/free copies to associations: Management Today has a primary ABC figure of 100,464, but 40,000 go free to members of the Institute of Management; another 50,000 are sent by controlled circulation to named people; only about 1,500 are brought in the shops;
  • controlled free circulation: the free circulation is limited, eg Doctor magazine is only sent to family doctors;
  • non-controlled free circulation: the magazine is given away to anyone
  • monitored distribution: for example, copies picked up from regular distribution points, eg street dispensers.

See the ABC's Rules & Regulations ( for definitions of these terms.

Be careful how you interpret the data. Sales figures are given as a primary number and then split down into :

  • Total Average Net Circulation Per Issue – all the copies sold (in newsagents or on subscription) or given away worldwide;
  • Total Average Net Circulation Per Issue – as above but in the UK & Republic of Ireland only;
  • Total Average Net Circulation Per Issue (Other Countries).

So of the primary ABC figure for Vogue in the UK, 206,834, only about 112,000 are sold in the shops in the UK. Some 44,000 go overseas and 7,000 are given away.

How do I find sales figures?

ABC organisations will sell them to you. If you cannot afford to pay, you can try the following:
  • Ask the ABC to give you a precise set of figures.
  • Ask the publication concerned.
  • Try to get access to past copies of directories or databases that publish the data, such as BRAD. This would normally be through a publisher's advertising department or specialist library.
  • The ABC results for magazines are published twice a year, in February and August. They are reported in trade papers such as Press Gazette, Campaign, Retail Newsagent and the media sections of newspapers, such as The Guardian. Some of these have archives that can be freely searched. University and specialised library may have subscriptions to such websites.

How can I find sales figures worldwide?

There is an international federation of circulation auditing bodies, the IFABC. It has links to all members around the world:

Another useful body is:

  • the FIPP, which represents national magazine representatives in about 70 countries

Confused by sales and readership?

For every copy of a magazine sold, it is usually read by more than one person. For example, you might buy a copy of Vogue and give it to a friend (that's 2 readers so far) who then gives it to a dentist's surgery (another 50 readers).

Many countries undertake marker research to discover how many people read a publication. In the UK, the National Readership Survey (NRS) interviews 36,000 people each year and assesses their reading habits of 200+ magazines and newspapers. The numbers are then multiplied up to represent the whole population.

Vogue, for example, has a circulation of about 160,000 copies in the UK, yet more than a million adults tell the NRS they read it. So it has a readership of about 6 times its circulation.

Newspaper supplements are not usually included in magazine readership tables. For example, in France, the title with most readers is Femme Actuelle with 6.9m readers). Yet Version Femina has 10.3m readers, but is not counted in the main magazine figures because it is distributed free with more than 30 regional newspapers.

The most recent NRS data can be viewed on the organisation's website. Interpreting the figures in detail can be tricky, so check it out with someone before you make too many assumptions!

What are the best information sources?

I need details of lads mags and gossip mags

Question: I am a Journalism student at Northbrook College in Worthing, West Sussex, and for an assignment I need sales figures for all the major "Lads Mags" and gossip magazines. I have tried searching on the net but cannot find a definitive list after 2000, I know it is cheeky but do you have any details that could be of help to me?

Answer: See the question: What are best information sources? Also:

I'm researching German magazines

Question: I work for a design agency and we are looking to expand in Germany. Can you tell me about the industry there?

Answer: Try these links:

  • IVW for advertising data:
  • List German publishers by searching on Germany at FIPP

... and France

L'école supérieure de journalisme de Lille has many pages of information (in French) with links to all aspects of the press in France.

Any free reports about Europe?

Question: I have found the FIPP report FIPP/ZenithOptimedia World Magazine Trends 2005/2006 through Magforum, but at £180/£330 this is too expensive for my college library to buy. Are there any free/cheap reports?

Answer: The European Commission had a department called Publishing Market Watch, which reported to the Enterprise Directorate. In 2004 and 2005, it published reports called The European Magazine and Journal Market, which can be found on the Web Archive. This report was prepared by Rightscom in London and Turku School of Economics and Business Administration in Finland.

If you can travel to London, the City Business Library holds many relevant reports, such as Mintel and Keynote, and may hold the FIPP statistics. Check before you make the trip though. It is a reference library only.

If you want a specific part of such reports, it is worth contacting the publishers. I found they were often willing to give free access to my students. In some cases, they would supply last year's copy of such reports for a minimal charge.

Do you know about Russia?

Question: I saw your information about the launch of Wallpaper in Russia. I work in marketing for a French company. Do you know of sources about the growing Russian magazine market?

Answer: If your Russian is up to it, a good source may be the Federal Agency for the Press and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation ( See:

  • Find Russian publishers at the FIPP