Make Your Magazines Move with Animated GIFs

Jenn de la Vega / October 9, 2014


Everywhere you look on the Internet, you’ll encounter moving images of cute cats falling over, your favorite sitcom quotes and laugh-out-loud snippets. Where did it all come from? GIF stands for “Graphics Interchange Format,” an image type created in 1987 by CompuServ and later animatable by Netscape. The animated GIF has since become an Internet art form and gained popularity due to its portability. Its limited color palette was not intended for high quality photography but for simple images or graphics with solid color. These short animations can take up less time and space than video production.

An animated GIF file is made of frames that are displayed in succession, finitely or infinitely. Unlike videos, you don’t have to hit play on when you flip them into your magazines.

Giraffe_Finite Giraffe_Infinite
The image on the left plays once. Reload the page to see it again. On the right, the animation loops infinitely.

GIFs can help illustrate a point, provide a reaction or give your readers something to stare at between articles. Not everyone loves them, so be careful not to overstimulate your audience. GIFs can distract or drive a magazine off-topic if they aren’t augmenting your content. Jittery or flashing strobe GIFs that are too fast and bright can also be harmful for those who suffer from photosensitive epilepsy.


When it comes to flipping GIFs into your Flipboard magazine, there are a few things to note before you publish. If you do not see an image preview, the file might not show up. Sometimes an image will have a file extension of “.gif” but not all GIFs animate. By the same token, not all animations you find are GIFs. They can be flash animations or video files, too.

Should you make your magazine cover a GIF? The New Yorker recently addressed this question online with their very first GIF cover this past September. François Mouly, art director at the landmark publication, said,

“I like expanding the range of possibilities, but what’s wonderful about the covers is they are unpredictable. You don’t know whether it’s going to be a news item, or a poetic take on rain in the city, or something about technology. I don’t want to set up an expectation that from now on it’s always going to be some kind of added web version of the cover.”

Your best bet is to use GIFs in moderation and within context of your magazine. For a technical explanation of how Flipboard made it possible to flip GIFs on iOS, you can read this post on our engineering blog.

Get moving with these GIF-tastic magazines on Flipboard:

BalletNews_CoveranimBallet News and Views by wordwacker: A wonderful example of an illustrative magazine cover.

GifaCat_CoveranimGIF a Cat/Dog by karolaeigler: What would a blog post about GIFs be without cats?

AllGifsConsidered_coveranimAll GIFs considered by mng0304: Animated science, math and movement.

Have you found an effective GIF in a magazine? Tweet it to @Flipboard.

~jdlv is curating “GIF