A zine, short for “magazine,” is a self-published, often small-circulation publication that covers a wide range of topics and is typically created by individuals or small groups with a DIY (do-it-yourself) ethos.

What is a zine?

The word “zine” is typically pronounced as “zeen.” It rhymes with the word “seen.”

Zines, short for “fanzines” (fan magazines), originated as a form of self-published, small-circulation publications that emerged in the science fiction and punk music subcultures of the 1930s and 1970s, respectively.

These early zines were often created by fans to discuss their interests, share fanfiction, artwork, and engage with like-minded enthusiasts.

The punk movement of the 1970s played a pivotal role in popularizing this art as a medium for counterculture expression.

Sniffin Glue 1977
Sniffin Glue 1977

Punk zines became a means for individuals to communicate their opinions, promote bands, and challenge mainstream culture. These early zines were photocopied and distributed independently, embracing a DIY ethos that continues to define the zine culture today.

As time progressed, expanded into a diverse range of topics beyond science fiction and punk. They covered music, art, politics, personal stories, social issues, and more. Zines gained momentum in the 1980s and 1990s as part of various subcultures, and they continued to evolve alongside changes in technology and culture.

With the advent of the internet, zine culture transitioned to digital platforms, giving rise to online zines and webzines. However, the tactile and personal nature of traditional zines has ensured their continued relevance in the digital age.

Zines remain an essential means of self-expression, allowing individuals to share their thoughts, creativity, and perspectives in an intimate and unfiltered way.


Today, zines are celebrated at events like zine fairs and festivals, where creators and enthusiasts come together to share, buy, and sell zines. The rich history and ongoing evolution of zines make them an integral part of alternative and independent media, promoting diverse voices and fostering connections within communities.

Zines can take various forms, including printed booklets, pamphlets, or even digital formats, and they are known for their creative and unique presentation styles.

Zines offer a platform for people to express their thoughts, opinions, stories, artwork, and other creative content in an independent and unfiltered manner.

They often cover niche or unconventional subjects that might not receive mainstream attention. As a result, zines have become a significant part of alternative and subcultural movements, allowing individuals to share their perspectives without the constraints of traditional publishing.

Zine creators often handle all aspects of production, from writing and designing to layout and distribution. This hands-on approach gives zines a personal touch and allows creators to experiment with layout, typography, artwork, and collage, creating a distinct aesthetic that sets them apart from traditional magazines.

Why zines matter

Zines matter for a variety of reasons, as they serve as a unique and significant medium of expression and communication that has had a lasting impact on culture, creativity, and communities.

Why zines matter
Why zines matter

Here are some reasons why zines matter:

1. Diverse Voices: Zines provide a platform for marginalized, alternative, and underrepresented voices to be heard. They offer an avenue for individuals to share their perspectives, stories, and experiences that might not find space in mainstream media.

2. Creative Freedom: Zines allow creators to express themselves freely without the constraints of traditional publishing. This creative freedom fosters innovation and experimentation in both content and design.

3. DIY Culture: The DIY (do-it-yourself) ethos behind zine creation promotes self-sufficiency and empowerment. Anyone can make a zine with minimal resources, enabling individuals to become publishers of their own work.

4. Counter-Culture and Subcultures: Zines have played a pivotal role in documenting and connecting subcultures, countercultural movements, and underground scenes, fostering a sense of community and identity.

5. Niche Topics: Zines cover an array of niche and unconventional subjects that may not receive attention from mainstream media. This encourages exploration and learning about topics beyond the ordinary.

6. Authenticity: Zines often reveal personal, raw, and unfiltered emotions, stories, and art. This authenticity resonates with audiences seeking genuine human experiences.

7. Preservation of History: Zines document cultural moments, social movements, and historical events from perspectives that may not be captured elsewhere. They provide insights into the zeitgeist of their times.

8. Tangible and Intimate: Unlike digital content, zines are physical creations that readers can hold, touch, and interact with. This tactile experience creates a more intimate connection between creator and audience.

9. Catalyst for Conversation: Zines can spark discussions and dialogues about various topics, acting as conversation starters and encouraging critical thinking.

10. Democratization of Media: Zines challenge the traditional gatekeepers of media and publishing, democratizing the creation and dissemination of content.

11. Empowerment: Creating and sharing zines can be an empowering process for both creators and readers. It encourages self-expression, agency, and active participation in culture.

12. Artistic Exploration: Zines often blend writing, illustration, collage, and various artistic mediums, encouraging interdisciplinary creativity.

13. Fostering Connections: Zines help build connections within communities of creators and readers who share similar interests or identities.

How to make a zine

How to make a zine
How to make a zine

Creating a zine is a fun and creative process that allows you to express yourself while sharing your thoughts, art, stories, or ideas with others. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make a zine:

Materials You’ll Need:

  1. Paper (8.5″ x 11″ or any size you prefer)
  2. Writing and drawing tools (pens, pencils, markers, etc.)
  3. Art supplies (colored pencils, watercolors, collage materials, etc.)
  4. Scissors
  5. Glue or adhesive tape
  6. Printer (optional)
  7. Computer and software for layout (optional)

Step 1: Conceptualize Your Zine

Decide on the theme or topic of your zine. It could be personal stories, artwork, poetry, DIY guides, or anything that inspires you.

Step 2: Plan the Content

Outline the content for each page. Decide on the order and layout of your content. Keep in mind that zines are often created on a single sheet of paper, folded and cut to create pages.

Step 3: Create the Content

Start creating your content on individual pages. Write, draw, or create artwork that aligns with your theme.

Step 4: Layout and Design

Decide on the layout of each page. You can use a computer software (like Adobe InDesign, Canva, or even Microsoft Word) or do it by hand. Ensure that your content is readable and visually appealing.

Step 5: Printing (If Needed)

If you’ve designed your zine digitally, print out the pages. Use a printer with good quality, or you can opt for a photocopier for a more DIY feel. Remember that the final zine will likely be a smaller size, so consider scaling down your content.

Step 6: Cut and Fold

Fold your printed or blank sheets into the desired zine size. Common formats are half-letter size (5.5″ x 8.5″) or quarter-letter size (4.25″ x 5.5″). Experiment with different folding patterns to achieve the number of pages you want.

Step 7: Add Content

Glue or tape your content onto the pages. Get creative with the placement—cutouts, overlapping, and collages can add an artistic touch.

Step 8: Assemble the Zine

Stack the folded pages in the correct order, then fold them in half. Press the fold firmly to make it crisp.

Step 9: Finishing Touches

Add a cover page with the title of your zine and your name. You can also number the pages if needed.

Step 10: Copy and Share

Create multiple copies of your zine. You can photocopy them or print them out, depending on your resources. Share your zine with friends, at zine fairs, or online platforms.

Remember, zines are all about creativity and individuality, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different styles, materials, and layouts. The DIY nature of zines means that imperfections can add character to your creation. Have fun expressing yourself and sharing your unique perspective with the world!

Zine dimensions

Here’s a table with common zine dimensions, folded sizes, and the number of pages they typically have when using a single sheet of paper. Keep in mind that these are just common sizes, and you can always experiment with different dimensions to suit your creative vision.

Zine SizeDimensions (in inches)Folded Size (in inches)Number of Pages (on one sheet)
Half-Letter8.5 x 115.5 x 8.58
Quarter-Letter8.5 x 114.25 x 5.516
Mini5.5 x 8.52.75 x 4.2532
Square8.5 x 8.54.25 x 4.2516
Half-Page8.5 x 5.54.25 x 5.58
Micro4.25 x 5.52.125 x 2.7564

Remember, these dimensions represent the size of the paper you start with. Once folded, the dimensions are halved in both width and height. The number of pages listed is for a zine created from a single sheet of paper, using both sides for content.

How many pages in a zine?

Certainly, the number of pages in a zine can vary widely depending on factors like the size of the paper, the folding pattern, and whether you use both sides of the paper for content.

Here’s a table showcasing the number of pages in common zine sizes, assuming you’re using a single sheet of paper and printing on both sides:

Zine SizeDimensions (Folded)Number of Pages (Single Sheet)
Half-Letter5.5 x 8.58
Quarter-Letter4.25 x 5.516
Mini2.75 x 4.2532
Square4.25 x 4.2532
Half-Page4.25 x 5.516
Micro2.125 x 2.75128

Famous zine writters

Several famous zine writers have left a significant mark on zine culture and alternative media.

While zines often thrive in grassroots and niche communities, some creators have gained wider recognition for their contributions.

Penny Rimbaud
Penny Rimbaud

Here are a few well-known zine writers:

  • Penny Rimbaud: A key figure in the punk movement, Rimbaud was a co-founder of the band Crass and a prolific creator. His zine “International Anthem” played a role in spreading the punk ethos and countercultural ideas.
  • Ayun Halliday: Known for her zine “The East Village Inky,” Ayun Halliday explores motherhood, personal anecdotes, and daily life in her zine. Her humorous and introspective writing style has garnered a dedicated following.
  • Cindy Crabb: The creator of the long-running zine “Doris,” Cindy Crabb discusses topics like feminism, mental health, activism, and personal experiences. Her zine has resonated with readers for its candid and relatable content.
  • John Porcellino: The creator of “King-Cat Comics and Stories,” John Porcellino’s autobiographical zine delves into his everyday experiences, mental health, and the beauty of simplicity. His work is celebrated for its sincerity and connection with readers.
  • V. Vale: Founder of RE/Search Publications, V. Vale has published zines like “Search & Destroy” and “RE/Search,” which have explored alternative culture, punk, music, and more. His zines are noted for their in-depth interviews and exploration of subcultures.
  • Mimi Thi Nguyen: An academic and zine writer, Mimi Thi Nguyen’s zine “Evolution of a Race Riot” addresses issues related to race, identity, and punk culture. Her writing bridges academia and zine culture.
  • Cristy C. Road: An artist and writer, Cristy C. Road’s zines, including “Greenzine,” combine her artwork with personal reflections, queer themes, and social activism.
  • Aaron Cometbus: Creator of “Cometbus,” Aaron Cometbus has been publishing his zine since the late 1980s. His zine often features stories from his life and observations of the punk scene.
  • Bill Brent: Known for “Doris,” Bill Brent’s zine explores various themes, including feminism, body image, mental health, and relationships. His zine’s honest and introspective content has garnered a dedicated readership.
  • Pam Noles: Creator of “Pam’s Perambulation Papers,” Pam Noles’ zine delves into her experiences as a Black woman in fandom, science fiction, and pop culture. Her zine discusses representation, race, and identity in these contexts.

These zine writers have made meaningful contributions to the world of zines, alternative media, and countercultural expression.

Sharing your zine with the world

Sharing your zine with the world is an exciting and fulfilling process that allows you to connect with readers, engage with your audience, and make your creative work accessible to a wider audience.

Sharing your zine with the world
Sharing your zine with the world

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to effectively share your art:

1. Perfect Your Zine: Ensure your zine is complete, well-designed, and error-free. Proofread your content, check for layout consistency, and make sure everything is visually appealing.

2. Identify Your Target Audience: Determine who your zine is intended for. Understanding your target audience helps you tailor your approach to promotion and distribution.

3. Create Online Presence: Set up social media profiles, a personal website, or a blog where you can showcase your art and interact with potential readers. Share updates, behind-the-scenes content, and teasers.

4. Attend Zine Fairs and Events: Participate in zine fairs, craft markets, conventions, and events where you can showcase and sell your zine in person. These gatherings are great opportunities to connect with like-minded creators and readers.

5. Online Platforms: Consider uploading your zine to online platforms dedicated to art, or self-publishing. Websites like Etsy, ZineOwl, or Gumroad allow you to sell digital or physical copies of your zine.

6. Printing and Distribution: If your zine is in physical format, decide whether you want to print it at home or use a professional printing service. Determine how you’ll handle distribution, whether it’s by mailing copies, selling at local shops, or sending them to zine libraries.

7. Collaborate and Network: Collaborate with other zine creators, artists, or writers. This can expand your reach and introduce your zine to new audiences.

8. Zine Reviews and Features: Reach out to zine review blogs, podcasts, or magazines that focus on indie publications. Getting your zine reviewed or featured can help generate buzz and attract readers.

9. Engage with Your Audience: Respond to comments, messages, and emails from readers who show interest in your zine. Building a rapport with your audience can lead to long-term connections and support.

10. Social Media Promotion: Regularly post about your zine on social media platforms. Share snippets, images, quotes, and testimonials to pique curiosity and keep your audience engaged.

11. Offer Special Promotions: Consider offering limited-time discounts, bundles, or exclusive content to incentivize readers to purchase your zine.

12. Leverage Hashtags and Keywords: Use relevant hashtags and keywords when promoting your zine online. This can help your content reach a broader audience interested in your niche.

13. Share Behind-the-Scenes: Give your audience a glimpse into your creative process, inspiration, and the journey of creating your zine. This personal touch can foster a deeper connection with your readers.

Remember that building an audience and gaining recognition takes time, so be patient and persistent. By utilizing various promotional strategies and engaging with your audience, you can effectively share your zine with the world and connect with readers who resonate with your creative work.


Sure, here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs):

What is a zine?

A zine is a self-published, often small-circulation publication that covers a wide range of topics. It’s typically created by individuals or small groups with a DIY ethos, allowing for unique perspectives and creative expression.

What are zines used for?

Zines are used to share personal stories, artwork, poetry, political commentary, reviews, tutorials, and more. They provide an alternative platform for expression and often cover niche or unconventional subjects.

How do I create a zine?

To create a zine, plan your content, design your pages, print or photocopy them, fold and assemble the pages, and then distribute or share your zine with others. It’s a creative process that encourages experimentation.

Do I need special skills to make a zine?

No special skills are required to make a zine. Basic writing, drawing, and layout skills can help, but zines celebrate authenticity, so imperfections can add character to your creation.

What size should my zine be?

Zines come in various sizes, including half-letter, quarter-letter, mini, square, and more. Choose a size that suits your content and vision. Experimentation is part of the fun!

How do I distribute my zine?

You can distribute your art through zine fairs, festivals, local shops, online platforms, social media, and by mailing copies to interested readers. The method you choose depends on your goals and resources.

Can I sell my zine?

Absolutely! Many zine creators sell their zines to cover printing costs and share their work with a wider audience. Online platforms like Etsy or Gumroad are popular for selling art.

What’s the difference between a zine and a magazine?

While both zines and magazines are forms of publications, are often self-published, cover niche topics, and emphasize creative expression. Magazines are typically professionally produced, cover mainstream topics, and are distributed widely.

What’s the history of zines?

Zines have roots in science fiction and punk subcultures, emerging as fanzines in the 1930s and gaining momentum in the 1970s punk scene. They evolved into a versatile medium that documents alternative culture and personal expression.

Why do zines matter?

Zines matter because they amplify diverse voices, provide creative freedom, document subcultures, foster community, and challenge mainstream media. They offer an authentic, independent, and tangible form of self-expression.

Where can I find zines to read or buy?

You can find at zine fairs, online platforms, local bookstores, and libraries. Websites like Etsy, ZineOwl, and independent shops are great places to discover and purchase zines.


  • Melin, Daniel. “The Rise and Fall of Zines.” Split Magazine. Web.
  • Schmidt, Christian. “Meanings of Fanzines in the Beginning of Punk in the GDR and FRG.” La Presse Musicale Alternative 5, no. 1 (2006)
  • Triggs, Teal. “Scissors and Glue: Punk Fanzines and the Creation of a DIY Aesthetic.” Journal of Design History 19, no. 1 (2006)
  • Wilson, Brian. “Ethnography, the Internet, and Youth Culture: Strategies for Examining Social Resistance and “Online-Offline” Relationships.” Canadian Journal of Education 29, no. 1 (2006): 307-328.

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