Effective Portfolio Creation: 5 Steps for Editorial Design
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 6 min read


  1. Define Your Portfolio Goals
  2. Collect and Curate Your Best Work
  3. Create Strong Visual Presentations
  4. Write Compelling Project Descriptions
  5. Share Your Portfolio and Receive Feedback

Ever wondered how to create a portfolio for editorial design that truly captures your skill set? Look no further. Here, we've laid out five simple, yet effective steps to guide you in creating a portfolio that screams 'you' and sets you apart in the world of editorial design. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting out, this guide will help you showcase your work in the best possible light.

Define Your Portfolio Goals

Before diving headfirst into the world of portfolio creation, it's essential to start with a clear goal in mind. Defining your portfolio goals is the first and arguably one of the most important steps in creating a successful portfolio for editorial design. Let's explore this further.

Identifying Your Target Audience

The first step is to identify who you want to impress with your portfolio. Is it a potential employer, a client, or the broader design community? By understanding your audience, you can tailor your portfolio to appeal directly to them. For instance, if you're aiming at a publishing house, you might want to highlight work that demonstrates your ability to create engaging layouts and eye-catching cover designs.

Setting Clear Objectives

Next, you need to determine what you want your portfolio to achieve. Are you showcasing your versatility across different styles and mediums? Or, are you focusing on a specific area of expertise? By setting clear objectives, you're not just throwing together a bunch of your best work — you're telling a story about your skills, your evolution as a designer, and your unique approach to editorial design.

Deciding on the Portfolio Format

Lastly, decide on the format of your portfolio. If you're targeting online clients or employers, a digital portfolio might be the way to go. There are numerous platforms like Behance or Adobe Portfolio that can help you create a stunning online showcase of your work. On the other hand, if you're presenting your work in person or at a job fair, a physical portfolio could make a significant impact. Remember, the format should serve your goals and make your work shine.

Now that you've defined your goals, you're ready to take on the next step — collecting and curating your best work. But that's a story for another section. Stay tuned!

Collect and Curate Your Best Work

Now that you've set clear goals for your portfolio, the next step in creating a standout portfolio for editorial design is to collect and curate your best work. But how do you decide which pieces make the cut? Let's find out.

Pick Your Pieces

Begin by collecting all your work and laying it out in front of you. This could include everything from magazine layouts to book covers, typography samples to digital illustrations. Remember, variety is the spice of life. Showing a wide range of work can demonstrate your versatility and adaptability.

Quality Over Quantity

When it comes to how to create a portfolio for editorial design, it's not about how many pieces you include — it's about their quality. Choose pieces that not only show off your technical skills but also your creativity, problem-solving, and ability to deliver on a brief. Don't feel the need to include everything you've ever created. Instead, opt for those pieces that you're most proud of and that best represent your skills.

Emphasize Your Strengths

Your portfolio is a showcase of your strengths. If you're exceptionally good at creating eye-catching book covers or you have a knack for innovative magazine layouts, make sure these skills are front and center in your portfolio. Don't get lost in the clutter of trying to demonstrate every skill you have. Instead, focus on what sets you apart.

Stay Current

Ensure your portfolio reflects your current skills and style. If you've significantly improved or evolved in your design style since a piece was created, it might be best to leave it out. The goal is to show where you are now as a designer, not where you were when you first started.

With your best work in hand, you're now ready for step three — creating strong visual presentations. But we'll save that for the next section. Keep going, you're doing great!

Create Strong Visual Presentations

Having collected your best pieces, the next step in learning how to create a portfolio for editorial design is presenting them in an appealing way. Here's how you can create a visual feast for the eyes of your potential clients or employers.

Consider Layout and Composition

First off, think about your portfolio's layout. It's not just about the individual pieces — it's also about how they're arranged. Like a well-designed magazine spread, your portfolio should have a clear flow and balance. Mix up large, full-page images with smaller ones, and consider how the colors and styles of different pieces complement each other.

Use High-Quality Images

Nothing lets down a design portfolio faster than pixelated or poorly lit images. Ensure you're capturing your work in the best light — literally. If you're photographing physical pieces, use a decent camera and good lighting. For digital work, high-resolution screenshots or exports are your best friends.

Showcase the Process

Here's a secret: Employers don't just want to see the final product — they're often just as interested in how you got there. Including sketches, drafts, or before-and-after comparisons can give them insight into your creative process and problem-solving skills. Don't be shy to pull back the curtain a little!

Keep It Simple

When it comes to the design of the portfolio itself, remember: less is more. You want your work to take center stage, so keep the background and navigation elements clean and minimal. Avoid anything that distracts from the work itself.

Armed with a beautifully presented portfolio, you're well on your way to impressing potential clients and employers. Next up, we'll look at how to write compelling project descriptions to accompany your work. Stay tuned!

Write Compelling Project Descriptions

Now, you've put your best work forward and arranged it in a visually appealing way. The next step in creating a portfolio for editorial design is to add some context and narrative to your work through project descriptions. Let's dive into how you can do just that.

Start with the Basics

Your descriptions should first cover the basic details of each project. This includes the client or purpose, the goal or challenge, the tools and techniques used, and the final outcome. It's like painting a picture with words for your audience.

Highlight Your Role

When describing each project, make sure to highlight your specific role and contributions. Did you design the layout, choose the typography, do the illustrations, or all of the above? This helps the viewer understand what skills you applied and can offer in future projects.

Describe the Process

Remember when we talked about showing the process in your visuals? Well, you should describe it in your project descriptions too. Discuss your design decisions, the problems you faced, and how you solved them. This gives an insight into your thought process and problem-solving abilities.

Keep it Short and Engaging

While it's essential to provide enough detail, you also don't want to bore your audience with a wall of text. Keep your descriptions concise, engaging, and easy to skim. Make good use of subheadings, bullet points, and bold text for key points.

Well-written project descriptions can bring your work to life and give it context. They are an essential part of learning how to create a portfolio for editorial design. Up next, we'll discuss how to share your portfolio and gather feedback. Don't miss it!

Share Your Portfolio and Receive Feedback

After defining your goals, curating your best work, creating strong visuals, and crafting compelling project descriptions, the next step in learning how to create a portfolio for editorial design is to share your work and gather feedback. Let's get into how to effectively do this.

Choose the Right Platform

The first step is to decide where you'll host your portfolio. There are many online platforms specifically designed for this, like Adobe Portfolio or Behance. Alternatively, you might choose to create your own website for more control and customization. The best choice depends on your needs and technical skills.

Share Widely and Wisely

Now it's time to let the world see your work. Share your portfolio on social media, design forums, and networking sites like LinkedIn. But remember, always consider the audience on each platform and tailor your approach accordingly. You want to reach people who will appreciate and benefit from your work.

Gather and Utilize Feedback

Feedback is a goldmine for improvement. When you share your portfolio, encourage viewers to leave their thoughts and suggestions. Be open to criticism—it's not always easy to hear, but it's how you grow as a designer. Use the feedback to refine your portfolio and improve your future work.

Keep it Updated

Your portfolio is a living document of your design journey. As you take on new projects and develop new skills, update your portfolio to reflect this. It's not a one-and-done task, but a continual process of showcasing your growth and evolution as a designer.

And that's the final step in creating a portfolio for editorial design. Remember, a great portfolio is more than just a collection of work—it's a reflection of you as a designer. So go ahead, share your portfolio, gather feedback, and keep improving. Your next big opportunity might be just around the corner!

If you're looking to elevate your editorial design skills and create an effective portfolio, we recommend checking out the workshop 'Editorial Submissions: Shoot Development To Publication' by Jose Espaillat. This workshop will guide you through the process of developing and submitting your work to publications, ensuring you showcase your best editorial designs.