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Page Layout


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Layout refers to the arrangement of elements (content) on a page.  The page in question might be a book page, webpage, poster, brochure or any other 2D media.  There are various approaches to layout which are representative of various philosophies of design and personal work preferences.  These range from very formal layouts with templates through to completely informal intuitive methods.  Here, we are concerned with a general overview of layout components, tendencies and commonalities though the focus is on a more formal approach.

Using grids:

The two most common approaches to layout use grids and templates respectively.  Working with grids allows greater freedom than templates.  A grid is a general set of graphic lines on the page which guide the presentation and arrangement of visual components, whilst still allowing the designer room to move within the grid.  A template on the other hand is more structured, and involves the "plugging in" of content in certain places as per the template.

Using grids in laying out work greatly assists and accelerates the process.  It will allow you to create stronger layout work, improving your graphic presentations.  And because there are grid-lines to work to, there is less humming and haring, which saves you time.  Better work, faster.

However, intuitive (no-grid and non-template) laying out is still an option.  It's just that it rarely produces visually strong work.  See Additional below for more information.

Common grids:

There are several types of grid.  The most useful are:
1.     Tenth/Twentieth grid is an excellent and versatile method for breaking up your page into a highly flexible working grid.  If working in Illustrator or InDesign :
1.     Draw an outline of your paper size (no matter the paper size).
2.     Scale down the outline.  Usually a reduction by an even number such as 10 or 20 is appropriate.
3.     Move scaled outline to the top left hand corner of the page.
4.     Array the scaled outline over the page to create a snug grid.
2.     Golden ratio which is based on the "golden number" of 2:3, or 21:34.  This is especially useful in book design as it determines margin sizes etc.
3.     Alternative grids can be seen here . This site is useful as it produces alternative grids in the form of PDF templates which you can download and work from directly in Illustrator.

For more general information on grids and proportioning your page you could try the following works:
1.     The Layout Book by Ambrose and Harris
2.     The Form of the Book by Tchichold


One of the key things which will make your graphic design and layout work stronger is CONSISTENCY.  Consistency especially in the following ways:
·         Consistency in layout.  Maintaining consistency of layout is one of the functions of a grid, as discussed above.  Use the grid to keep your placement of visual elements consistent along both the horizontal and vertical axis of your page.
·         Standardise your font: typeface, colour, size.  This does not mean that all your fonts must be the same, but rather than a certain consistency of font use be evident throughout the page. See these good examples of font consistency in the Image Gallery.
·         Consistency of colour, both imagic colour (colours found in your illustrated and photographic content) and text colours.  Pay attention to your colour grades.

Additionally, it is worth making sure you choose a paper stock which is best suited to your content.  There are a great range of stocks available from coloured stocks, through matte and gloss stocks.  Don¿t just rely on the standard semi-gloss stock.  Experiment with other stocks.  Have you work printed at a good printers.


Various techniques can be used to make your layout more logical.  Remember that the eye is conditioned to move over a page going from top to bottom and form left to right.  Use this tendency to your advantage.  Elements on a page can for example be displayed in sequential order – think of it as story telling your layout.


You can give priority to certain elements of your layout by some simple methods:
·         Size of element: the larger the element the greater its impact
·         Position of element: elements located closer to 1. the top-left hand corner and 2. the centre of the page will attract priority. 
·         Greater contrasts and higher colour saturations will also draw attention from the eye.
·         White space: use white space around your element to accentuate it and make it stand out.

Learning support:



You'll also likely find interesting:
·         Canons of page layout
·         Grid
·         ffffound gives random but excellent examples of visual design work.
·         manystuff is best for layout and typography examples
·         Institutions dedicated to layout and type such as the werkplaats .



External links:



First published Mon. 1 Feb. 2010.

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