Today’s university magazine nerdistry

Don’t ask me to explain why I did it, but I recently surveyed my alumni magazine library and called the roll for perfect-bound magazines that appear to employ school colors on their spines. No need to thank me.

  • Dartmouth Alumni Magazine
  • Fordham (maybe…Fordham’s colors are maroon and white, and this spine is awfully red, but the back cover is more maroonish…so maybe the printer was off on the color)
  • Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine
  • Iowa Alumni Magazine
  • Johns Hopkins Magazine (actually a compromise with the powers-that-be, who, for a time, were pushing for the university logo to appear on either the front or back cover; we counter-offered to make the spine blue)
  • The Michigan Engineer
  • Mountains & Minds (Montana State University)
  • New York University Alumni Magazine
  • NC State
  • Occidental
  • State (Oklahoma State University, school colors orange and black, and man, you’ve never seen as much orange in a magazine until you page through an issue of this one)
  • Purdue Alumnus
  • Stanford
  • Swarthmore College Bulletin

Just when you thought the emerging discipline of umagazinology could not get any nerdier.

While on the subject of perfect binding and magazine spines, the magazine of the Rhode Island School of Design does the coolest thing. The magazine’s name is RISD xyz, and look what they do with that (click the image):



  1. Ann Wiens

    The first magazine I edited, an art magazine, finally managed to go to perfect binding after I left (it folded shortly after that, though, so maybe saddle stitched wasn’t so bad). Anyway, they did a very cool think with the spines. It published 10x/year, and if you lined up a year’s worth in order, a little picture was revealed on the spines.

  2. Don Hammond

    As a full-fledged design nerd I can say without shame that I love the look of perfect-bound publications, but there’s another audience to consider, as irritating as it may be: our readers. Perfect-bound mags will never lie flat (unless there’s an additional scoring of the signatures), and that makes the physical process of reading them clumsier. Considering that at least a portion of the typical alumni magazine’s readership is collecting Social Security, it’s probably the case that some of them are struggling with various forms of arthritis and other aging-related physical limitations. For these people, a saddle-stitched publication is easier to handle.

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