3 Common Types of Magazines Explained

The three types of magazines are consumer magazines, trade magazines and organization magazines. Each type of magazine has a variety of popular subsections and genres.

Magazine publications have had to adapt in recent years as more and more of their audience has migrated online.

However, there is a reason for optimism, with a recent study showing that the total number of magazine readers in the U.S. is holding strong (above 220 million).

Alongside that, 60 new magazines were launched into the public sphere during the first year of the pandemic.

Magazines & Digital

Of course, the digital world is affecting magazines, but that is not to say that there isn’t a massive market for these publications.

Magazines are moving forward with these online opportunities.

All you have to do is take a brief history lesson of the industry to see that magazines take change in their stride.

For instance, when Salon, the first magazine that was online-only, was launched in the mid-90s, it had a readership of over 5.8 million monthly visitors soon after.

The magazine industry has always found a way to thrive and will continue to adapt.

Different Types Of Magazines

When it comes to the different types of magazines, there are three genres in which virtually all publications can be categorized into.

They are as follows: consumer magazines, trade magazines and organization magazines.

Of course, those categories have an array of necessary subcategories to separate them.

For instance, entertainment, sports, general interest and news all fit into the consumer magazine category.

Trade magazines specialize in different types of industries, with their content having a business-related focus. Just like with consumer magazines, there are an array of subtypes that fit into this category of these professional magazines.

Organization magazines are magazines produced by companies to promote their organization, product, or business.

Examples of these would be the magazines provided to employees as part of an internal communications strategy or in-flight magazines given out by an airline.

Consumer Magazines

Types of magazines: Consumer Magazine
Consumer magazines are often described as ‘glossies’ by people within the publishing world

When you think of magazines, consumer magazines are probably what you have in mind.

The target audience for these magazines is the general public.

They are the magazines with the widest readership and, thus, are titles you are most familiar with fall into this category; think Vogue, Sports Illustrated and Reader’s Digest as examples.

These popular magazines are often described as ‘glossies’ by people within the publishing world. This is because of the paper they are printed on.

Well presented adverts often appear on glossy paper alongside magazine articles within these publications.

Consumer magazines aren’t limited to national titles either, with the likes of Texas Monthly mostly available within local audiences’ newsstands.

According to Statista, AARP The Magazine was the leading U.S. consumer magazine in the second half of 2021, with a circulation of 22.89 million. It is a bi-monthly magazine that focuses on subjects relating to aging.

Types Of Consumer Magazines

This type of magazine is often categorized based on the audience of the publication.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of the most popular types of consumer magazines.

1. News And General Interest Magazines

The umbrella term ‘news and general interest’ covers a wide range of popular titles. These magazines often cover news items that a certain demographic would be interested in.

AARP Bulletin is a perfect example, as it has a readership of 30,375,000. Its contents include magazine articles and news topics that would interest people over 55.

2. Cooking Magazines

Cooking magazines have a strong base in the market. They provide their readers with recipes and articles about the preparation of food.

Popular titles include Relish, Taste of Home and Food Network Magazine.

3. Fashion Magazines

Look at any newsstand, and you will see beautiful faces looking back at you from the fashion magazines on their shelves. Fashion magazines are not only popular, they are also iconic.

For example, Vogue has a readership of over 9,000,000 and continues to be one of the most recognizable brands on the planet.

4. Technology Magazines

Tech magazines are great resources for their target audiences, with the likes of Wired and Popular Mechanics being a staple in many households. According to Muck Rack, an online Brazilian magazine, Revista Época is the most popular technology publication in the world.

5. Health Magazines

Men’s Health and Women’s Health are two obvious examples of this type of magazine.

Health magazines often provide aspirational content for their readership. Articles include workout guides, dietary plans, and discussions on living a healthier and happier life.

6. Children’s Magazines

If you are anything like the author of this blog, you will remember that one of the highlights of going to the supermarket as a child was getting a magazine on your way out.

If you can relate to that, you will be glad to know that kids are still enjoying the fruits of magazine publishing.

If you want to move your child away from their apps and screens and show them the joys of print media, then magazines are an excellent way to do so.

Some of the best titles on the market at the moment are Cocoa, National Geographic Kids and Dot.

7. Business Magazines

Business magazines provide readers with information on the latest technology and trends to help their enterprises.

They also detail news, deals and features that help keep entrepreneurs and business leaders ahead of the pack.

Some of the most popular titles in this area are Inc., Harvard Business Review and Fortune.

8. Travel Magazines

Travel magazines give their readership the chance to witness life in parts of the world that they may not have been to.

Their content often includes travelogues, imagery, guides and recommendations.

National Geographic is a standout title in this area, with a circulation of over 1,930,000. Other popular publications are Travel + Leisure and Global Traveler.

9. Cultural Magazines

Cultural magazines are an excellent pathway to getting more art into your life. They are also a brilliant way to get a first look at rising talent.

For instance, The New Yorker has published a long list of writers who would go on to have storied careers. They have also given several celebrities a chance to show off their fiction writing skills, such as the Social Network star Jesse Eisenberg.

Culture magazines also provide readers with an update on the goings-on in the world of the arts.

Other popular titles include The New York Review of Books, Playbill and ArtForum.

10. Automotive Magazines

Car publications are amongst the most popular special interest magazines out there. Amongst the most widely read in the US are Car and Driver, Road & Track and Hot Rod.

Car and Driver has a monthly audience of around 19,000,000 who want to get the latest updates on all things automotive.

11. Pet Magazines

With all the brilliant magazine publications for humans, of course, our pets need something to read too!

Obviously, we are joking.

These are magazines for owners who want to read up on how to keep their pets healthy, and they also provide interesting stories from pet owners from around the globe.

Popular pet magazines include Dogs Today, Cat Fancy, and Horse&Rider.

12. Sports Magazines

You name the sport, and there is likely a popular magazine to go along with it.

Let’s take golf, for instance. Sports magazine Golf Digest has a circulation of over 1,650,00 and a readership of 4,600,000. Over their other platforms, they reach more than 17,000,000 people.

Hockey, football, soccer, and virtually all other games have accompanying titles.

No matter your sporting interest, there is a title that can keep you up to date with the latest news and features.

13. Entertainment Magazines

Entertainment magazines remain a popular source of news and features from the world of show business.

One of the most popular magazines in this genre is Entertainment Weekly.

Although it has ceased publication of its print magazine, it still reaches a vast number of people via its online platform. Popular content for this type of magazine includes tv and movie reviews and celebrity interviews.

People, Us Weekly, and TV Guide are other publications within this genre.

Trade Magazines

PR experts, Top Agency, give an excellent description of the role of trade publications.

It defines them as magazines that “keep members of [an] industry up to date about the newest practices, methods, technology and other relevant pieces of information.”

Purpose Of A Trade Publication

1. Keep Members Of The Industry Informed

Trade publications help keep the members of the industry informed. They work as vehicles for connection, promotion, and education within the industry their journalists are writing about. They also highlight successes and promote new ways of working.

2. The Right People

Trade magazines provide an excellent tool for brands who want to reach a niche audience with their advertisements. For example, if you are advertising farming equipment, advertising in a trade publication for farmers will bring you directly to your target audience.

3. Trusted Resource

Because of the level of specialization, the information within a trade journal often has a strong level of trust from its readership. This allows it to be a resource for those within the industry and those outside who want to learn more about that particular trade.

Trade publications should not be confused with scholarly journals (which are not magazines). Trade publications provide practical information within a particular trade or industry, while scholarly Journals contain articles written by academics to present the results of original research.

Popular trade magazines include Chronicle of Higher Education, Construction Bulletin, Computer World, and Advertising Age.

Organization Magazines

Organization magazines fall into three categories; society, promotional, and custom.

1. Society

These are the types of magazines that you get as a member of an organization, society, or as an employee. They are designed as a communications tool to keep their audience informed of important policies and changes and bring people together.

2. Promotional

Promotional magazines are a PR tool for certain organizations. These magazines are usually free and designed with a specific goal or agenda.

3. Product

The third type is product magazines, which are usually supplied after a purchase or to advertise certain products. In-flight magazines that include branded content are an example of these.

Magazines And The Future

The above article gives an overview of the different types of magazines, but it is far from an exhaustive list. That is because the world of magazines is constantly changing and adapting, with new genres being born into it all the time.

This dynamism is why magazines remain a popular choice for consumers today.


  • Cian Murray is an experienced writer and editor, who graduated from Cardiff University’s esteemed School of Journalism, Media and Culture. His work has been featured in both local and national media, and he has also produced content for multinational brands and agencies.