Stage 1 - Content Preparation
Text is prepared using a Word Processor such as Microsoft Word. Ideally the text should be proof-read by a third party before sending on for layout using specialist tools such as Adobe's InDesign or Quark XPress, however, other programs, such as Microsoft's Publisher, may suffice for more simple-based work.
Images should be at high resolution at 300ppi at the size you intend to print at. Less resolution will cause images to blur when printed –– you could get away with resolutions as low as 150ppi although commercially it isn't recommended.
Supplying files as RGB JPGs will speed transfer between systems but will be converted into a format which can be read by commercial pre-press systems such as TIFF or EPS.
Stage 2 - Assemble the magazine
To assemble the magazine from the content supplied, you should used a commercial design pro-tool such as InDesign or Quark XPress. The knowledge of the user will ensure the images are replicated properly and the type laid out to enable the copy to be read with ease.
Keep font differences to a minimum. Preferably use a serif font for bulk text, leave sans for headings and labels. Avoid over-use of colours. Check out a professional magazine for ideas. Leave plenty of 'white space' around the text and avoid placing copy over images as this can lead to visual interference. Professional publications avoid clashing of elements. KISS (Keep It So Simple).
Work to columns. Text spread right across pages can make reading the document hard work. Breaking into thinner columns will make reading easier and more efficient.
Stage 3 - Print the magazine
There are variety of ways to print the magazine but in all cases you need to work the pages in sets of fours. Optimum pagination groups would be to work in 8pp or 16pp sections.
You can print on your own printer using the printer settings in your program or better still, for small numbers, print the document digitally at your local print or copy centre. For larger scale publications a commercial printing company would be required to print your magazine. If the latter is the route you wish to take then best to contact the printer first so you have a clear route on what you need to supply to achieve the results rather than giving them something they can't work with after all the hard work you put in.
In most cases it would be advisable to use a professional magazine production artist to deliver your job without technical issues in turn would save time, money and deliver a better looking magazine which would be better received by the reader.
Stage 4 - Send the files to the printer
At one time Quark XPress files were collected with its elements and dispatched on a Syquest drive to produce a four colour set of film before dispatching to the printing company. By today's standards, PDF files are now exported from InDesign to commercial print specifications and uploaded via IP directly into the printing company's pre-press system, equally files can be uploaded by FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or supplied on CD via post.
Common sense notes
Talk to your printer. Keep the layout simple. Emphasise on ease of reading ability than over-designing the page.