Behind The Scenes: The Dummy

the dummy

We call it the “dummy”. In “The Devil Wears Prada”, Meryl Streep’s Anna Wintour-based character calls it the “book”.

Whatever you call it, it’s the mock-up of the issue before it goes away to be printed, and it’s an important part of the process of putting the mag together. In the pic above is the dummy for the issue that’s currently out on sale.

Too big for our chunky staples, this one had to be held together with the biggest bulldog clips we could get our hands on. Up until fairly recently, too, it was also strapped together with rubber bands just to keep it contained! It really is a beast.

All Together Now

The dummy is our chance to see how everything looks when it’s all together and give it a good final read-through before it goes to press.

An issue’s worth of empty pages are bound together according to the flatplan, a chart that Angela sets out a number of days before, showing where everything’s going in the magazine.

As the stories and features are completed during the week, they get printed out and taped into the dummy pages one by one. Then, towards the end of the week, it travels around the office getting read by all the editorial members of staff, to pick up any wee corrections that need to be made.

Up until this point, almost everything is read on screen. It’s so important to read things on the page, though – I don’t know the science behind it, but it’s like it uses a different part of your brain. You see things on paper that you often don’t on a monitor.

On its journey round the office it comes with a couple of sticky labels on the front – one to sign that you’ve read it, another to mark the page number of any corrs (corrections) that need doing.

Something Different

One of the reasons I look forward to it is that it’s the first chance to read things that you didn’t do. It gives us in the Features Team the chance to read the stories, and the Fiction Team the chance to read the features! We operate quite independently as teams, but this is the first time that the two come together for a given issue.

By the time we’re all done, it’s usually a little dog-eared and duffed up – and occasionally there are some crumbs in there – but seeing it finished gives us that good feeling that we’ve put together something worthy of our lovely readers.



Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.