Layout and Page Design Fundamentals

Golden Rules of Design:

  1. Design is a service. Work and design to address clients and target groups.
  2. Be creative, look for new solutions and ways of thinking.
  3. Find clear and universal design, stick to visual constants to raise the perception value (identity, recognisability, trust).
  4. Keep it short and simple: reduce and simplify to achieve an efficient effect.
  5. Design comprehensively, credibly and appropriately.

Layout Process:

  1. Fixing the page format (size)
  2. Creating the document
  3. Defining the type area
  4. Fixing the design grid with text and stylistic elements
  5. Make-up and final corrections

The Golden Section and harmonious page formats:

The Golden Section is an aesthetically pleasing division of space that is often used by artists as the basis for measurements within their composition.

The Golden Section is a ratio which is evident throughout the universe as the number Phi and is also related to Fibonacci Series. You can use this ratio to good effect in design by making sure that elements of your grid conform to this ratio. Using the Golden Section can ensure a natural sense of correct composition, even though it is based in mathematics it will ‘feel’ right.

A spiral growing out of squares sized according to Fibonacci Series (0+1=1; 1+1=2; 1+2=3; 2+3=5; 3+5=8; etc). This spiral can be found in nature, art, design and architecture.

To create a Golden Section Ruler:

  1. Create a new document in InDesign with page measurements 13″ x 0.25″ and margins set to “0”
  2. Draw a rectangle measuring 0.25″ x 8″ and another one measuring 0.25″ x 5″. Fill them with different colors.
  3. Export as EPS file (Encapsulated PostScript) which will make resizing of the ruler easy and independent of resolution.
  4. You can then place this file in any InDesign document and use to find Golden Sections for your layout.
Using GS ruler for starting a grid
Golden Section at work (left page of the spread)


The Design Grid:

A construction grid that helps to organize a design area. The design grid makes it easier to design clearly, consistently and with continuity. It is a system of guidelines, borders (margins), and columns into which elements are placed and to which they are aligned. Before document layout begins following design elements should be established:

  1. Format (size of the finished project)
  2. Type area and margins
  3. Columns (column width, column spacing, column height)
  4. Basic typeface and point sizes (number of character in a column)
  5. Column spacing (number of lines in a column)
  6. Dividing the column into grid fields
  7. Margin types
  8. Pagination (number of pages in the document)
  9. Color scheme

There are a variety of design grids available decision on which one to use depends on your publication’s needs. One of the most effective principles in grid design is called the Rule of Thirds, also known as the golden grid rule. The Rule of Thirds is a technique which is applied by dividing a space into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, creating a grid of rectangles. It’s a good place to start

Rules of Thirds grid with no gutter between the guides.


Example of a page using Rules of Thirds grid.

Using this grid as a base, you can fine-tune it further by introducing columns and using the Golden Section rules introduce other elements such as header, footer or sidebar elements.

Hierarchic grid structure - columns of different widths defined for specific kind of content.



Examples of different layouts using various grids:

Read more about grid systems here