The Grid
Confronting a blank page on which to design a layout
is a daily challenge for graphic designers, one that often
intimidates even the most seasoned professional. There
are hundreds, if not thousands, of design possibilities.
Complicating matters further, most projects have mul-
tiple pages or spreads that require continuity through-
out the document or publication. To meet this challenge
head on, designers should employ the use of grids.
The grid is an invisible framework of guides used to
construct a page layout or composition for a printed
piece. They give structure to the page and help ensure
consistency across the document. By having text line
up at the same point on every page, maintaining col-
umn widths, aligning images with text or other images,
and placing page numbers in the same spot throughout,
there is an orderly rationale for the design. Text and
images are not dropped haphazardly onto the page or
collaged together, but are placed within different grid
“modules” that guide the viewer’s eyes through the
document, which makes for easy comprehension.
Grids may span an entire spread and divide it evenly
into modules. Grids sometimes exist only within the
live area of a layout as defi ned by ample white space
or the margins around them. The size and number of
grid modules at the designer’s disposal are completely
arbitrary. The purpose of creating a grid is to give or-
der to the composition. The more grid modules used,
the greater the possibilities.
The basic structure of a layout grid
uses columns and rows to help
determine the placement of text
and images. Each unit within the
grid is a module and certain graphic
elements may take up more than
one module. Horizon lines establish
a reference point for the top-most
placement of body copy.
The Complete Graphic Designer
Column Gutter
Horizon Line
There are times when it is appro-
priate to break the rules of the grid
in design, but this must be well
thought out to be effective. In this
case, to illustrate the concept of
creative inspiration, or making the
“right brain heavier, the designer
has rotated the text of the poster
to give the illusion that the right
side of each copy block is being
weighed down.
Design: Kinetic
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Page Layout & Design
This fold out poster/brochure for
a chess tournament uses a simple
three-column grid with clearly
defi ned grid modules to organize
text and images. Large amounts of
white space and colored text help
guide the viewer’s eyes around the
page and disseminate information
about the event.
Design: CDT Design
Sometimes a composition will use
several grids layered on top of each
other. For these Nature Museum
posters, grids have been rotated
off axis to help accentuate and
highlight important information.
Design: Fauxpas Grafi k
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The Complete Graphic Designer
These grid structures have been
created using the Fibonacci
sequence of numbers and the
golden ratio, both of which are
naturally occurring phenomenon.
The composition of this poster uses a
well-defi ned grid based on the golden
ratio. Each element, from the main
title of the piece to the supporting
copy, lines up with the grid lines.
Design: Shinnoske, Inc.
The golden ratio is not only found
in nature, but is used in classical
architecture as well. For this logo
for a small architecture fi rm,
the golden ratio has been used
to create a well-structured and
proportional mark.
Design: Ideo/Croatia
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