Europe 1952 – Master Page and Using a Grid

When figuring out the way you want to layout the pages of a book I like to use a grid as the structure for the design. Before & After‘s has a two-part video that talks about using a grid in your design. If you want to learn more about grids in your designs it is well worth the 10 minutes or so it will take to watch them. I especially like part 2.

Because of the large size of the pages of this book (about 13″x11″) I wanted to have the text in columns. If a line of text gets too long in relation to the size of the letters it gets harder to read because it is so easy to lose your place on the line. Having columns of text solves this problem. I decided on three columns so I put guides on my master page for three columns. I also put guides horizontally to divide the page in three sections with in the margins. Instead of a small header or footer I chose to put a large title on each page. Part of the reason for this was that my mom, who the book is for, has macular degeneration plus cataracts so she couldn’t see well. Before I finished the project she had cataract surgery which helped her vision a lot. I thought that she would at least be able to read the title on each page and see something of the largest photos even if she couldn’t read all the text. It is important to keep in mind who you expect to read your stories and make decisions that will help them to be drawn into your book.

Basic Master page

If you haven’t used master pages you are missing a great time saver. In InDesign it is a simple as clicking on the master page in the pages pallet. By default there is a blank master page there called A-Master. Also by default this master page is applied to you whole document. When you add anything or edit anything on this page it is added to your entire document. Don’t worry, you can override this by dragging the [None] page in the pages pallet to any pages you don’t want to have the A-Master applied. I created two other master pages, one for the beginning of chapters and another for newspaper articles. I’ll talk about those in more detail in another post.

The advantage that having the three by three grid gave me was that it helped to make it simpler to figure out the layout for each page of the book. I had lots of photos and most of those photos are either one, two or three columns wide. Some are full bleed and a few go across to the facing page. But I still used those grid lines to help me to decide how large those photos were. Here are some examples pages.

The left hand page shows a “three column” photo and the right page is a full bleed.

This page has a bleed on three sides with a small “one column” photo overlapping on the left, while the right had page has two “two column” photos.

Here I have a “four column” full bleed and a couple of “one column” plus. When I was overlapping photos like here I was willing to allow photos to be wider than their column.

So how did I decide what size to make each photo? The first criteria was appeal of the image including the quality of the exposure. Because I wanted the photos to be the focus, if the image justified it I would make it as big as I could. Next I had to take into account how many photos or other memorabilia and the amount of text. Sometimes it is very tricky to get it to all coordinate together. But having the grid makes this easier and unifies the look of the book.

If you have any questions about how to do any of this please let me know. Next week I’ll cover how I handled the many newspaper articles I had for the book.


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