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Zine Making for Engagement

About the author

Hana Ayoob - credit Steve CrossHana Ayoob is science communicator and illustrator. She's passionate about bringing people together to explore the world around them through science and art. Hana studied zoology at university and continues to indulge her interest in weird and wonderful animals by drawing and talking about them whenever she gets the chance.

Hana has produced illustrations for a range of books, industry publications, logos and more and was awarded one of The Big Draw’s artists’ residencies in 2021. She produces and speaks at a range of events, performs science-inspired stand-up comedy, runs creative workshops and provides public engagement and science communication consultancy. Hana is also a co-host of the podcast Why Aren’t You a Doctor Yet?.

Twitter: @HanaAyoob




Find out what a zine is, make a simple zine yourself and discover ideas for using zines and zine-making in your Engagement activities.


What is a zine?

Zines are simple, self-published magazines, leaflets or booklets which can be used to communicate about almost anything. Their informal nature means they can be useful in public engagement for communicating complex and emotive issues, and for facilitating discussion.

Zines are usually produced and circulated in smaller numbers than a typical magazine. Traditionally they have been sold cheaply, given away or traded. The definition of a zine is loose but we think the term came out of sci-fi fan groups in the 1930s. In the 1970s, access to photocopiers made it even easier to self-publish. Very similar self-published pamphlets and leaflets existed long before the term ‘zine’ was coined and were often a key form of communication in political movements.

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Some example zines

Two Photon Art has some interesting science zines here

The Small Science Collective has a large collection of zines here

This is a zine created to summarise an academic book by Emily Dawson and Sophie Wang

Here is a simple zine I created about sinuses and sinusitis:

Example zine about Rhinos

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Making a Simple Zine

The essential materials you will need are:

  • A sheet of paper. A4 or A3 plain paper is ideal. If you only have lined or grid paper, this is also fine. Any colour of paper works but keep in mind you might not be able to write or draw on darker colours
  • A pen or pencil
  • A pair of scissors. You might be able to cope without these.

Other materials you could use

  • Tape/glue
  • Coloured pens, pencils or markers
  • Other art materials such as paint, ink or pastels
  • Stickers or coloured tape
  • Old leaflets or magazines you can cut up - things related to your area of work might be particularly useful
  • Digital materials you’re able to print in order to cut up and use
  • Anything else which you can use to make a mark on paper or which you can stick to paper - let your imagination run wild!


Follow along with the video instructions or use the diagram below.

Diagram of how to produce a zine - suggest follow the video instructions instead

Alternative instructions...

Top tip - fold all your folds back on themselves to help get sharp edges on your finished zine.

Step 1: Fold a horizontal piece of paper (A4 works best) in half along the short edge

Step 2: Fold in half again along the short edge

Step 3: Fold in half a third time along the short edge

Step 4: Open up the booklet back to a full page. Cut along the middle of the page up to the outside sections.

Step 5: Fold lengthways and press out the centre (so you get a cross shape) - now fold this into a booklet

Step 6: Fill in your zine using writing, drawing, collage etc.

What to include

Now that you have your zine template, it’s time to decide what to put in it.

Some example topics include:

  • A particular area of your work or research
  • What problem are you trying to solve with your work or research?
  • What excites you about your work or research?
  • Are there myths or misconceptions about your work or research which bother you?
  • A day in your life

Ideally you want something which can break down into 3 or 6 key points for your 6 pages.

It’s up to you whether you wing it or plan out your pages. You could number your pages and plan the content or you could just dive in. You could begin with a front cover or leave that till the end. There’s no right or wrong way to do it.

You can use writing, drawing, paint, collage or anything else you can think of to fill your zine. You can also unfold the zine to create a poster or larger page on the reverse side of the paper (be careful of pen/marker bleeding through if you do this).

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Photocopying or printing your zine

The zine format we’ve used can be easily unfolded so you can photograph, scan or photocopy it, and can then be easily replicated and shared.

A few tips on getting a clear image with your phone or a camera

  • Check the lens for fingerprints or other smudges
  • Keep your device as steady as possible - bracing your hand against a solid surface might help
  • Set up your zine so it’s flat and you can position your lens parallel to the surface
  • Sometimes taking a photo further away and cropping it can get you a better image
  • Check for any shadows cast on your zine from objects nearby
  • Use natural light if you can but avoid direct sunlight

Sharing your zine online

Taking a photo of the full unfolded pages is ideal for printing or photocopying your zine but might not work for sharing online. Some ways you can share your zine online include:

  • Take a video of you flicking through the pages of your zine
  • Crop and rotate your photos of the unfolded zine or take individual photos of the pages
  • If you have the time and access to the right software, you could turn your images into a pdf version of the zine

Using zines in public engagement

As well as sharing your finished zines online or at events, there are a few ways you could use zines and zine making:

  • Create a zine with questions or prompts for people to add their own responses
  • Use zine making with groups to get them making their own zines about a particular topic

BridsCaribbean ran a zine contest for children and adults and you can see some of the amazing zines submitted here

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More info

Here are some other zine formats to try:

Some books on zines:

Selection of published zine books

If you have used collage in your zine and are planning to share it, I would recommend reading the DACS fact sheet on collage and copyright.

You can also share your zine with the Institute of Engagement team - get in touch with them at

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