It is an accepted fact that covers influence magazine purchase. As the number of titles on the UK market continues to increase, competition intensifies for shelf space, and the importance of a good cover becomes greater, While theories on cover design abound, in the final analysis the cover is usually a matter of editorial/artistic instinct, without the backing of evidence from objective research into purchasing influences and behaviour in a competitive situation. We felt that it should be possible to draw up some guidelines to improve the effectiveness of cover designs. Our specific objectives were to determine the importance in the purchase decision of the cover picture, the overall design and use of colour, the masthead and the cover lines - and to discover how value for money was judged. This paper discusses, in general terms the findings from a major piece of research, commissioned by Comag, as a service to their clients.