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Designing Your Journal

This guide gives advice and information on how to make your Open Journal Systems (OJS) journal attractive, accessible, and unique. It explains how to customize existing themes, create CSS files, and select images and fonts to suit your audience and content.

OJS is an open source solution to managing and publishing scholarly journals online. It has a responsive, themable reader interface where publishers can display journal issues and articles and relay other information about the journal and its policies.

OJS 3 comes prepackaged with a suite of themes and the ability to additionally select various design elements from a set of options to customize the look and feel of your journal site. Most themes allow you to select colours, upload logos and other images, and change fonts. For information about how to make these changes and add content to your site, see the Website Settings chapter in Learning OJS.

Advanced users who are familiar with CSS and want to personalize the look and feel of their journal site can upload their own stylesheets. This will allow you to override theme colours, fonts, and other design elements with options defined via custom CSS rules. This guide is primarily for these users. It also explains how to choose colour and typography, size images, develop a unique brand for your journal, and design an accessible site.

For web developers who wish to tailor the look and feel of their journal or press by building a custom theme, see the PKP Theming Guide.

We encourage publishers to use the theming options that are native to OJS, including those available in the plugin gallery. We recommend that those who choose to use a custom CSS file have experience with graphic design and CSS or use the services of a graphic designer or front-end developer. Customizing files when you lack design expertise and a full understanding of the implications is risky; however, we understand that not all publishers have the resources to access these services, so with this guide we offer information to help you make good design decisions and successful customizations.

This guide has been written for users of OJS. However, PKP’s other software applications, Open Monograph Press (OMP) and Open Preprint Systems (OPS), are similar to OJS and much of this information can also be applied to them. The guide also includes general information about journal site design and branding that can be applied to other publishing platforms.

Copyright: Simon Fraser University holds the copyright for work produced by the Public Knowledge Project and has placed its documentation under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International