If you have ever wondered what the best magazines in the U.S. are, then you are in just the right place. But what makes a magazine great? The writing. The ideas. The photography. The design. Sure. But more importantly, a magazine’s worth depends on how it catches readers’ glances, and then their hearts. Measuring a magazine’s success is factoring in its print and digital circulation, readership, and broad audience reach. That said, we will now be presenting you with the best 20 magazines straight outta the US of A, and that is in no particular order. Ready? Here we go…
Table of Contents
InStyle was established in 1994 as a monthly publication for women in America. Dotdash Meredith is the company that published it in the US. It was announced in February 2022 that InStyle would stop publishing in print and switch to a digital-only model. Along with advertising, the magazine offered content such as beauty, fashion, home, entertaining, philanthropy, celebrity lifestyles, feminism and human interest.
After originating in the United States, InStyle has expanded their brand and, as of 2012, distributes internationally to over 16 countries including Germany, Brazil, Greece, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, South Africa, Romania, and Russia. In May 2017, InStyle China was launched as part of a partnership with an existing weekly magazine, which featured Victoria Beckham on its inaugural cover.
People is an American weekly magazine that specializes in celebrity news and human-interest stories. It is published by Dotdash Meredith, a subsidiary of IAC. With a readership of 46.6 million adults in 2009, People had the largest audience of any American magazine, but it fell to second place in 2018 after its readership significantly declined to 35.9 million.
People had $997 million in advertising revenue in 2011, the highest advertising revenue of any American magazine. In 2006, it had a circulation of 3.75 million and revenue expected to top $1.5 billion. It was named “Magazine of the Year” by Advertising Age in October 2005, for excellence in editorial, circulation,and advertising.
Forbes is an American business magazine owned by Integrated Whale Media Investments and the Forbes family. Published eight times a year, it features articles on finance, industry, investing, and marketing topics. Forbes also reports on related subjects such as technology, communications, science, politics, and law. It is based in Jersey City, New Jersey. Competitors in the national business magazine category include Fortune and Bloomberg Businessweek. Forbes has an international edition in Asia as well as editions produced under license in 27 countries and regions worldwide.
Elle (stylized ELLE) is a worldwide women’s lifestyle magazine that focuses on fashion, beauty, health and entertainment. The title means “she” or “her” in French. Elle is considered the world’s largest fashion magazine, with 46 international editions in over 60 countries. It has over 69 million readers, with an audience of mostly women. It was founded in Paris in 1945 by Hélène Gordon-Lazareff and her husband, the writer Pierre Lazareff.
The magazine’s readership has continuously grown since its founding, increasing to 800,000 across France by the 1960s. Elle editions have since multiplied, creating a global network of publications and readers. Elle’s Japanese publication was launched in 1969, beginning an international expansion. Its first issues in English (US and UK) were launched in 1985.
Cosmopolitan is an American monthly fashion and entertainment magazine for women, first published based in New York City in March 1886 as a family magazine; it was later transformed into a literary magazine and, since 1965, has become a women’s magazine. It was formerly titled The Cosmopolitan. Cosmopolitan magazine is one of the best-selling magazines and is directed mainly towards a female audience. Jessica Pels is the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine.
6. US Weekly
Us Weekly is a weekly celebrity and entertainment magazine based in New York City. Us Weekly was founded in 1977 by The New York Times Company, who sold it in 1980. It was acquired by Wenner Media in 1986, and sold to American Media Inc. in 2017. Shortly afterward, former editor James Heidenry stepped down, and was replaced by Jennifer Peros. The chief content officer of American Media, Dylan Howard, oversees the publication
Variety is an American media company owned by Penske Media Corporation. The company was founded by Sime Silverman in New York City in 1905 as a weekly newspaper reporting on theater and vaudeville. In 1933 it added Daily Variety, based in Los Angeles, to cover the motion-picture industry. Variety.com features entertainment news, reviews, box office results, cover stories, videos, photo galleries and features, plus a credits database, production charts and calendar, with archive content dating back to 1905.
Esquire is an American men’s magazine. Currently published in the United States by Hearst Communications, it also has more than 20 international editions. Founded in 1933, it flourished during the Great Depression and World War II under the guidance of founders Arnold Gingrich, David A. Smart and Henry L. Jackson while during the 1960s it pioneered the New Journalism movement. After a period of quick and drastic decline during the 1990s, the magazine revamped itself as a lifestyle-heavy publication under the direction of David Granger.
Women’s Health (WH), published by Hearst, is a lifestyle magazine centered on health, sex, nutrition and fitness. It is published 10 times a year in the United States and has a circulation of 1.5 million readers. The magazine has 13 international editions spanning 25 countries and reaches over eight million readers globally. Prior to its acquisition by Hearst, it was founded by Rodale, Inc. in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. The magazine features multiple sections, such as fitness, sex and love, food, weight loss, Eat This!, health, beauty and style.
National Geographic (formerly the National Geographic Magazine, sometimes branded as NAT GEO) is a popular American monthly magazine published by the National Geographic Society. Known for its photojournalism, it is one of the most widely read magazines of all time.
The magazine was founded in 1888 as a scholarly journal, nine months after the establishment of the society, but is now a popular magazine. In 1905, it began including pictures, a style for which it became well-known. Its first color photos appeared in the 1910s. During the Cold War, the magazine committed itself to presenting a balanced view of the physical and human geography of nations beyond the Iron Curtain.
In later years, the magazine became outspoken on environmental issues. Since 2019, controlling interest has been held by The Walt Disney Company. Topics of features generally concern science, geography, history, and world culture.
Sports Illustrated (SI) is an American sports magazine owned by Authentic Brands Group, and was first published in August 1954. It was the first magazine with circulation over one million to win the National Magazine Award for General Excellence twice. It is also known for its annual swimsuit issue, which has been published since 1964, and has spawned other complementary media works and products.
GQ (formerly Gentlemen’s Quarterly) is an American international monthly men’s magazine based in New York City and founded in 1931. The publication focuses on fashion, style, and culture for men, though articles on food, movies, fitness, sex, music, travel, celebrities’ sports, technology, and books are also featured.
Gentlemen’s Quarterly was launched in 1931 in the United States as Apparel Arts. It was a men’s fashion magazine for the clothing trade, aimed primarily at wholesale buyers and retail sellers. Gentlemen’s Quarterly was re-branded as GQ in 1967.
The rate of publication was increased from quarterly to monthly in 1970. In 1979 Condé Nast bought the publication, and editor Art Cooper changed the course of the magazine, introducing articles beyond fashion and establishing GQ as a general men’s magazine in competition with Esquire.
13. TIME Magazine
Time (stylized in all caps) is an American news magazine and news website published and based in New York City. For nearly a century, it was published weekly, but starting in March 2020 it transitioned to every other week. It was first published in New York City on March 3, 1923, and for many years it was run by its influential co-founder, Henry Luce.
A European edition (Time Europe, formerly known as Time Atlantic) is published in London and also covers the Middle East, Africa, and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition (Time Asia) is based in Hong Kong. The South Pacific edition, which covers Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands, is based in Sydney.
Entertainment Weekly (sometimes abbreviated as EW) is an American digital-only entertainment magazine based in New York City, published by Dotdash Meredith, that covered film, television, music, Broadway theatre, books, and popular culture. The magazine debuted on February 16, 1990, in New York City. EW primarily concentrates on entertainment media news and critical reviews
15. Vogue Magazine
Vogue is an American monthly fashion and lifestyle magazine that covers many topics, including haute couture fashion, beauty, culture, living, and runway. Based at One World Trade Center in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, Vogue began as a weekly newspaper in 1892 before becoming a monthly magazine years later.
Since its founding, Vogue has featured numerous actors, musicians, models, athletes, and other prominent celebrities. The largest issue published by Vogue magazine was the September 2012 edition, containing 900 pages. As of today, there are 26 international editions.
16. Vanity Fair
Vanity Fair is a monthly magazine of popular culture, fashion, and current affairs published by Condé Nast in the United States. The first version of Vanity Fair was published from 1913 to 1936. The imprint was revived in 1983 and currently includes five international editions of the magazine. Vanity Fair is most recognized for its celebrity pictures and the occasional controversy that surrounds its more risqué images. Furthermore, the publication is known for its energetic writing, in-depth reporting, and social commentary.
17. Allure Magazine
Allure is an American women’s magazine focused on beauty, published monthly by Condé Nast in New York City. It was founded in 1991 by Linda Wells. Michelle Lee replaced Wells in 2015. A signature of the magazine is its annual Best of Beauty awards—accolades given in the October issue to beauty products deemed the best by Allure’s staff. The magazine’s prototype was shredded shortly before the scheduled launch date and, after overhauling everything (including the logo), Allure made its debut in March 1991designed by Lucy Sisman.
18. Essence Magazine
Essence is a monthly lifestyle magazine covering fashion, beauty, entertainment, and culture. First published in 1970, the magazine is written for African-American women. Edward Lewis, Clarence O. Smith, Cecil Hollingsworth and Jonathan Blount founded Essence Communications Inc. (ECI) in 1968. It began publishing Essence magazine in May 1970.
They recognized that Black women were an overlooked demographic and saw Essence as an opportunity to capitalize on a virtually untouched market of Black women readers. Its initial circulation was approximately 50,000 copies per month, subsequently growing to roughly 1.6 million.
In 2000, Time Inc. purchased 49 percent of Essence Communications Inc. In 2005, Time Inc. made a deal with Essence Communications Inc. to purchase the remaining 51 percent. In January 2018, the magazine returned to a fully black-owned publication after its acquisition by Richelieu Dennis, the founder of Sundial Brands.
19. AARP: The Magazine
AARP: The Magazine is an American bi-monthly magazine, published by AARP, which focuses on aging-related issues. In 1958, AARP began publishing a magazine titled Modern Maturity. Modern Maturity was later split into two editions, one for AARP members ages 59–65, and another for members over 65.
In spring 2001, AARP began publishing My Generation targeting a younger Baby Boom audience. In 2002, AARP combined the resources of its two publications into a single magazine to be published six times a year called AARP: The Magazine. The magazine publishes roughly 52 editorial pages six times a year in three separate editions, one for people ages 50–59, one for readers 60–69, and another for those 70+.
Game Informer (GI, most often stylized gameinformer from the 2010s onward[a] ) is an American monthly video game magazine featuring articles, news, strategy, and reviews of video games and associated consoles. It debuted in August 1991 when video game retailer FuncoLand started publishing an in-house newsletter.
The publication is now owned and published by GameStop, who bought FuncoLand in 2000. Due to this, a large amount of promotion is done in-store, which has contributed to the success of the magazine. As of June 2017, it is the 5th most popular magazine by copies circulated. Starting from the 2010s, Game Informer has transitioned to a more online-based focus.