Considering Layout

Previous Page

Considering Layout :

We have arrived at the point of considering layout of the documents. You do not have to be a professional graphic designer to create an effec¬tive and engaging layout.

Four simple principles can help you arrange text effectively:

• Move readers in the right direction

• Use white space effectively.

• Chunk information.

• Position graphics and artwork carefully.

Direction :

Readers of English expect to read from left to right and top to bottom. Thus you should arrange the elements of your document to lead readers in those directions. If you use more than one column, lead readers from top to bot¬tom down the first column, then up, then down again. If you're using a chart or photograph, you can put it at the top of the second or third column or in the middle of the first column. Put supplementary informa¬tion such as phone numbers or addresses in smaller print at the bottom.

If you are going to incorporate several elements - for instance, a ti¬tle, a photograph, two or three short pieces and borders or boxes - sketch out a model of how the resulting document might look before you start. Again, you need to make sure the reader will move through the piece in the right direction. It's also useful to use the Page Setup or View Com¬mand on your word processor which lets you see a page in miniature as you work. Doing so will show you how it's going to look from a distance and make it easier to see which way the movement is directed.

When you're creating a document like a brochure or booklet that in¬volves several pages, plan two or more pages at a time so you can see how they will fit together. Make sure that the important information is given appropriate placement in featured positions.

White Space :

White space includes the margins, the vertical space between columns, the horizontal space between paragraphs or lines of type, the space above and below headings, the open areas around graphics and the space at the top and bottom of a document. How you arrange this white space strongly affects the look and readability of your document.

For most documents, assume that you want an open, spacious and uncrowned page. This is even more important for Web pages than for print documents. Keep this assumption in mind especially for brochures, announcements, newsletters, posters or anything else you want your audi¬ence to take in at a glance. But it's also important for academic papers, reports or proposals. You want them to look readable too.

Some specific advices:

• Leave plenty of white space around titles and headings generally more above than below.

• For reports or academic papers, make side margins of at least one inch.

• Leave three - eighths to one - half inch between vertical columns.

• In academic papers, double-space within paragraphs.

• Leave a space around graphs, photographs or artwork. On an 81/2 - by – 11 -inch page, you need at least one-half inch of space between visuals and other text.

• For presentations, double or triple-space between lines.

• If necessary, cut text to avoid crowding.

Chunking Information :

Readers absorb information better when it is arranged into meaningful units and blocks. In printed documents, you can create such units in several ways in addition to the use of headings and subheadings.

Here are just a few:

• Display items in lists (like this one). Number items if their order is important. Bullet them if it is not.

• Use boxes or screens to highlight key information.

• Set off items for emphasis with borders or lines.

Positioning Graphics and Artworks :

While there are no hard-and-fast rules about placement of graphics and illustrations, here are some helpful guidelines:

• Put photographs toward the top of the document, especially in newsletters or posters.

• Try to put charts and graphs close to the place in the text where they are discussed. If you can't do this, clearly point readers to the correct location (by numbering and cross-referencing figures). Read¬ers should not have to hunt to connect a graph or chart with text.

• Avoid putting too many illustrations on anyone page. One or two illustrations on a page will have more impact than five or six.

• If your document has several pages, try to put at least one illus¬tration on the first page.

• When you can, place illustrations so that the text wraps around them. They will look more integrated into the document.

• Leave adequate white space around illustrations.

• Be sure every illustration connects directly to the information in the document. Never use graphics just for decoration.

• Make the size of each graphic proportionate to other graphics in the document, to the page size itself and to the importance of that graphic to that document. It makes no sense to illustrate a minor point with a full-page graphic nor does it make sense to have a one – by – one - inch graphic illustrating a major point. Sometimes you can shrink (or expand) an entire graphic (especially a downloaded graphic) to fit the need. Other times, you may need to crop (cut a part off) the graphic to get it to the right size.

To continue the section on
Considering Design,

A Few Uses of Document Designs

Planning A Design

Considering Type

Designing For The Website

Successful Writing Index

From Considering Layout to HOME PAGE