Using two different grids within a publication.

npgraphicdesign's picture

When designing a publication, would you use two different grids for the written part?

Section 1-5
• a two-column asymmetrical grid is perfect here. These sections are text and image heavy, but I have between 10-12 pages for each section.

Section 6 through 20
• a two-column symmetrical grid is perfect here. These sections are more text heavy with fewer images, but I only have 4 pages max for each of these sections.

And due to conflicts in various content, small book format, and needs for some space in the layout, I can't just use a two column layout for the whole book. Would look great in some sections but really dense in others. Already working with 9 for body copy and 11 for leading, and I was asked not to go lower than either number.

The best solution so far is to use a different grid for each section. Thankfully, Section 1-5 is in one overall 'chapter' of the book, and sections 6-20 are in another 'chapter.' OR I could use a 6 column grid and do a 3/3 or 4/2 split as needed.

Any thoughts?

oldnick's picture

Any thoughts? Yes: don't overthink it. Your two-grid solution sounds ideal, and rumors of the existence of Layout Police are greatly exaggerated...

JamesM's picture

> OR I could use a 6 column grid and
> do a 3/3 or 4/2 split as needed.

Sounds like a good solution.

charles ellertson's picture

I don't see any problem with having a two-column symmetric section, a two-column asymmetric section and a single column section in the same publication, either a single book or a journal or magazine.

If that presents the text the best way, then that's what you should do. Can't tell you how many books we've done with two grids, and three or even four are occasionally used when images get thrown in. Or boxed, sidebar text. Etc.

I'd say that multiple grids are fine when they're used to resolve an author's affectations, the (knowledgeable) design police only get involved when it's a design affectation.

npgraphicdesign's picture

Thanks everyone. I ended up finalizing a 6 column grid with a 3/3 split on some sections and a 4/2 split in others. If the layout police show up, I'll feign insanity.

The grid is attached. The book itself is only 5.375 x 8 inches (13.6525 x 20.32 cm), and this grid seems to be the most functional.

JamesM's picture

> If the layout police show up, I'll feign insanity

As long is there an overall consistency of the general style, I don't think you'll have a problem. You just want avoid having it look like two different designers did the the two sections and they are inconsistent in fonts, color palette, etc.

npgraphicdesign's picture

Amen JamesM! Master pages & styles have already been set up. Maybe I am being very OCD...but this is my first major publication, and I am examining every detail & decision I make under the proverbial design microscope.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

I just did a dissertation with a similar solution. Four col grid. Most pages in 2/2, intro's and other content in 3/0, some pages in a mix of these.

Worked ok. : )

Maxim Zhukov's picture

One book I designed, Language Culture Type (John Berry, ed. New York: ATypI/Graphis, 2002), had two distinct parts—the essays (top), and the showings of the bukva:raz! winners (bottom). Both parts were laid out using one and the same 12-unit grid; however, the typography of both parts was very different.


  • Serif–Sans-serif;
  • Symmetrical–Asymmetrical;
  • Justified–Unjustified;
  • Single-column–Multiple–column;
  • etc.
oldnick's picture

If you need any help feigning insanity, contact me: I have a lot of people buffaloed...

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