FMP: Underpinning the book with a grid and layout

Now that I am finally focusing my attention on the design of the book, it is important that I create a flexible grid that will suit whatever layout I decide is best to optimise the space. From some initial sketches, I can see possible paths forward.

How much space is there?

Firstly, I wanted to try some layout options, which can be seen in the sketches below. From the first sketch to the last, it is clear to see where progression has been made, with more of the page being used but giving everything proper breathing space. It is also clear to see I have throughout my ideas constantly improved the visual hierarchy to make the pages easier to read.


The next thing I did was to work out just how the best of my sketches would translate to the space I will have available to me. I know the dimensions are 22 x 28cm but they are just numbers and it is easy to not fully understand how that can be used.

Therefore, I marked out a spread on a sheet of A3 layout paper as close as I could (losing 10mm width per page), and could then easily draw out the best ideas and thoughts at a larger scale to allow me to have a basic understanding when I start putting things together in InDesign of what size they should appear at and if my ideas work, which I think they do, although adjustments will be needed, which I will make as I develop the project.


Once I got a rough idea how the space is best filled in the book, I moved into InDesign to build the book’s structure.

Creating a Grid

Going to InDesign > Preferences > Grids… allows me to choose a grid that suits. From previous experience I know the pages can be split into 24pt blocks. I chose for there to be 4 subdivisions as this allows there to be a smaller 6pt square block.

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 17.28.02

I will set up the baseline grid in my next blog post, when I investigate the typography I will be using throughout the book.

On a smaller note, I changed the colour of the grid to a very light grey (using the Custom Color feature) as I wanted it to be visible, but not too distracting.

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 19.03.38

Adding margins and columns

The next step to building a suitable structure to base the book on was to add some margins and columns. Blurb as default provide an 18pt ‘minimum’ margin, and recommend the margin is no thinner so as to prevent the possibility of parts of the design being cut-off when printed. To change the settings to suit me, I went to Layout > Margins and Columns

Blurb values
Blurb values
My settings
My settings

I chose to increase the margins to a still relatively thin 24pt, in order to maximise the amount of page the content can be shown on — once other design features such as headings have been taken into account — as I have sourced are large, good quality images.

I chose three narrow columns due to the page’s width, as with the amount of text the book will have being very low, I will want to be able to place it into a block one side of the page, leaving a two-thirds majority for images or infographics.

As for the gutters between the columns, I chose to keep this to 12pt, as this ties neatly into the underlying grid I created earlier and provides room for the content with some breathing space to prevent it from becoming too cluttered.


Now that I have created a suitable structure to underpin the book and come up with some strong layout ideas that I can experiment and develop in InDesign, I feel I am now making positive progression with the book.

Obviously, I would have hoped to have reached this stage earlier in-line with the schedule I set out for myself, but I think now I have reached the stage of mapping things out, I hope to be able to drop most of the book’s elements into place reasonably easy and hassle-free, making adjustments along the way.