Get on the Grid

It’s not always obvious, but just about every professional layout is built on top of a very specific formal structure, a sturdy framework lurking under the surface of even the most complex and dizzying designs. For centuries, artists, printers, and designers have organized their compositions with grids composed of horizontal and vertical lines that invisibly slice the canvas into blocks, or grid units, that help the designer to align and size page elements, as shown in Figure 6-6.

The grid is like the foundation of a house, a carefully measured structure that gives stability to the overall design without ever being visible to the viewer. And like a building foundation, a grid itself is not especially exciting—it’s a boxy structural device that can nonetheless support dazzling designs. Without a grid, you’re just winging it: Images and text tend to float on the page unhinged from any internal order, and elements repeated from page to page pop up in positions that aren’t in exactly the same place.

A grid keeps things clean, giving you guidelines to provide consistent placement and spacing throughout your document and to ensure well-proportioned elements within individual pages. Grids can help to organize any design, but they’re particularly helpful in providing internal consistency to lengthy documents like books, magazines, newsletters…or the Up & Away catalog.

Figure 6-6 shows a pair of pages from the catalog, both of them organized with a six-column grid. For standard ...

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