164 Best Practices for Graphic Designers: Grids and Page Layouts
When Theo Rosendorf of Matador set out to create the
Typographic Desk Reference, the knowledge of what
the end result would need to be was at the forefront of
his mind. Because he was creating something that would
be a reference volume for other designers, significant
planning was required up front. Beginning with the
utility of the end goal, the mechanics of how it would
need to function, and the possible visual directions
available given these objectives, Matador developed a
grid that would be highly accessible and serve to
showcase the typographic ideas that it would use
and explain.
MATADOR
L AYO U T W I T H A
TYPOGRAPHIC FOCUS
CASE
STUDY
“IT’S A BOOK MADE OF THE
STUFF IT’S ABOUT, WRITTEN AND
DESIGNED BY A TYPE NERD,
AND PUBLISHED BY A PUBLISHER
WHOS IN THE BUSINESS OF
PUBLISHING BOOKS ABOUT BOOKS
AND BOOKMAKING.
—Theo Rosendorf, Matador
Matador: Layout With a Typographic Focus 165
After determining the sheet size,
Rosendorf did extensive exploration
before landing on a slightly modied
version of the Van de Graaf canon
dening the text area. The grid
with ten columns with 12pt gutters
and a thirty-eight-line baseline
gridwas set up to maximize leg-
ibility of the 10/13.35 Caslon body
copy and an area for illustrations and
diagrams that would not compromise
the carefully considered line length
of the primary text area.
FIRM Matador
DESIGNER Theo Rosendorf
CLIENTS Matador,
Oak Knoll Press
166 Best Practices for Graphic Designers: Grids and Page Layouts
EVERYTHING HAS TO BE
VALIDATED. IF SOMETHING
CAN’T BE EXPLAINED, IT
GETS THE BOOT. THIS MAY BE
THE ONLY UNBREAKABLE
RULE IN MY OFFICE.
—Theo Rosendorf, Matador
It is common that the content of the piece should inform
the layout, but in this instance detail was key. Section
tabs needed to align perfectly from page to page, posing
some production challenges; diagrams, copy, and
examples needed to be seamlessly integrated, and
the audience that the piece was intended for could be
expected to scrutinize the details of space, line length,
word breaks, and alignments. However, a systematic
approach with lots of effort up front, driven by a rigorous,
pragmatic process, helped to ensure an end result as
beautiful as it is useful.
A grid system was designed around
the type that it would be support-
ing to allow for text of a variety of
sizes and styles to be set as examples.
It also needed to accommodate
diagrams or to communicate the
thoughts of the writer in a way that
feels natural and comfortable, with
sizes and positions of everything
linked by the underlying structure.
FIRM Matador
DESIGNER Theo Rosendorf
CLIENTS Matador,
Oak Knoll Press
Matador: Layout With a Typographic Focus 167

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