APP2: Creating a suitable grid to underpin the book’s layout

For this blog post, I want to discuss the process I am going through in order to create a suitable InDesign grid for the book I am designing.
I started by opening the blank Blurb template file for the pages of the document, and began to think about how the ideas I had and discussed in my last blog post would translate into a suitable, yet flexible grid. I want to do this before I get engrossed in the design phase as I too often get distracted by the minor details before I get the fundamentals in place.

Usually in the past when I have been designing an InDesign document, I have always measured elements in millimetres, but when Marc Foley from Dalton Maag came to give us a talk a while back, (the contents of which can be read here), he stated that measuring in points was the best, as this fitted in with typography, always measured in points. It was an interesting point (no pun intended), and one I thought I’d try. As it is, I’ve found it to be better for a variety of reasons, which I’ll discuss throughout.

Document Grid:

The default InDesign document grid contains a gridline every 72pt, with 8 subdivisions. This seemed far too wide and gives one subdivision every 9pt, which is an odd number… so this needed to be altered.

Document Grid

I felt after experimenting with positioning a page title by eye that a gridline every 48pt with 8 subdivisions, so one every 6pt, would be a much better solution. Soon after I found when working on the document that the grid was good, but I wanted a gridline more often, so I changed the values to every 24pt, with a subdivision every 4pt, as I wanted to keep the spacing of subdivisions to 6pt.

New Document Grid

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 15.46.58


Opening the document and going to Layout > Margins and Columns… reveals thin margins of 18pt except for the inside one of 45pt. Aside from the inside margin, these are far too thin and need altering. But by how much?

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 15.44.43

Well based on the adjustments made to the Document Grid, I looked at the inside margin value of 45pt and thought it would be suitable, so seeing how close it was to the gridlines on the x & y axis at 48pt I chose that as the new value for all the margins.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 15.45.36

Columns & Gutter:

Looking at the Columns for the book, one would be too few, leading to an excessive line length for text, making it too long to read, three would result in line lengths that are too small, upsetting the reader’s flow, so two is the perfect number.

As for the Gutter, I felt it should be very wide to provide space between the columns, so I chose 18pt as that is the width of three subdivisions. Later on, still at a reasonably early stage of design work, I changed it to 24pt, which covers two gridlines, but importantly now lines up with them so it is much easier to work with.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 15.45.22

Baseline Grid:

A Baseline Grid is a very important typographic tool to ensure type is correctly set, as all the lines of text in columns line up, matching each other. So therefore I set up my grid to start at 48pt, where the margins are, and having previously decided to set my body copy at 12pt to enable accessible reading for all (or at least a substantially higher than average value) the standard leading is 14.4pt, which I felt was a touch low. By increasing the value to 16pt, it also ties every third line into the grid, producing a well ordered structure to the written page.

Screen Shot 2014-01-15 at 17.20.03


Now I have sorted out the grid for the page, I can start properly attaching design elements, without creating several pages and constantly having to evolve every single one of them to keep up with my layout changes as I discussed in the beginning of this blog post.