The Elements of a Computer Magazine Cover Line

explained in layman's terms

A quick guide to interpreting the sentences used on the covers of magazines.

Attention getter
The first element in any magazine cover line is the attention getter.

Mere adjectives count for little compared to numbers. A nice big number wins out any day. Acceptable numbers for a magazine cover start at 20. Any less will make the issue seem elitist. There is no theoretical limit to the size of a cover line number. 2,000 is the current record.

First hype
Hyperbole is essential to a magazine cover. Having attracted the reader's attention, your next duty is to lay on the hype. This usually takes the form of a superlative (Best, Hottest, Ultimate, and so on) or some contrived adjective (Blowout, Eye-popping, Superfast, and the like).

Second hype
See First hype. Although there isn't much room to express yourself on the cover of a magazine, there?s always room for a second hyperbolic adjective (Cool, Lightning-fast, and Time-saving are among the easiest to think up on deadline)

Sadly, even a cover line must break its run of hyperbole with something concrete. The noun in question varies depending on the magazine's specialty, but in general computing journals, expect to use CD-ROM, Internet, Web, and Windows frequently.

hyperbolic second noun
Fortunately, the second noun on a magazine's cover line can get straight back to hyperbole. It's not unusual to see Screamers, Secret weapons, and Wonders on a cover. And that's only when the editorial cover committee ran out of decent coffee.

hype factor
A magazine's cover line offers three opportunities for hyperbole. These are balanced by one semi-prosaic noun and an attention getter. To tip the balance of hype so that it seriously outnumbers the facts, many magazines use the ultimate tool designed to whip up excitement where none exists. This tool is called the exclamation mark.

In general, exclamation marks are pack animals. If they do not travel in pairs, you will certainly see several in the vicinity of the first one you notice. For exceptionally short or exceptionally weak magazine cover lines, a proliferation of exclamation marks fills the bill (and the character count).

The maximum number of exclamations documented on a magazine cover line is five. The identity of the magazine and issue in question are being kept secret to protect the editors of PC/Computing and their families. Ooops.

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