July 20, 2009 / Design

8 column layout design made easy

Written by Jim Jordan

Choose a Column Plan

Columnar design brings consistency to your publication and is the foundation of all good yearbook design. Depending on the amount of space you leave in the gutter and the external margins you want, the width of the individual columns will change. In the 8 column plan we will be using here, most likely each column will be around 12 picas in width. Notice just two picas have been left in the gutter. If you look closely, most layout sheets already have an eight columnar design marked out.

STEP 1 - Choose a Column Plan

Place The Dominant Photo

Place the dominant photo shape slightly off center (don’t have it straddle the gutter) running across the gutter. It should be at least 2 1/2 times larger than any other photo on the spread and will be the focal point of the entire double page spread. You can also bleed it from the top and bottom.

STEP 2 - Place The Dominant Photo

Repeat The Dominant Shape

Place the next photo shape, which should roughly repeat the shape of the dominant. Notice the horizontal eyeline running across the bottom of the page. It should run several picas above or below the center of the spread and will help hold the spread together as a single unit, as well as lead the reader form one side to the other. The eyeline may be broken by a single element; here, the dominant photo.

STEP 3 - Repeat The Dominant Shapewidth=”150″ height=”150″ />

Contrast The Dominant Shape

Place a photo that contrasts the shape of the dominant photo. Since our dominant was more vertical, this photo will be more horizontal. Keep in mind that you will need space for your headline, copy block and captions. All captions should touch the photos they are describing, be the width of a column and never be stacked more than two high. Never trap captions in the middle of the spread. Keep them to the outside and do not allow them to be surrounded by more than two other elements.

STEP 4 - Contrast The Dominant Shape

Place Other Photos
Place 1-4 more photographs around the dominant. Keep a one pica internal margin between all elements. Do not leave any trapped white space. Be sure to plan for the placement of your captions.

STEP 5 - Place Other Photos

Position The Captions
Position a caption for each photo, which touches that picture while maintaining a consistent one pica internal margin. Do not stack more than two captions. Do not use place markers (right, left, top, bottom, etc.)-the caption lead should identify the photo. Make each caption at least 4 picas deep. It is also OK to bury captions in the copy block when necessary.

STEP 6 - Position The Captions

Design The Headline Package
Devise a dynamic headline style that will effectively lead the reader into the copy block. Include some kind of a subhead to provide the reader more information about what will follow in the copy block.

STEP 7 - Design The Headline Package

Place The Copy Block

Place the copy onto the spread in the remaining space to the outside. Each column of text will be in the width of each of the individual columns. It could be either two or three columns wide. Be sure to even the length of the columns to leave no trapped white space.

STEP 8 - Place The Copy Block

Make Final Adjustments

Add other typographical elements, such as pulled quotes and dropped caps. Check to be sure you have kept consistent internal and external margins, have no trapped white space, and all captions touch the photos they describe.

One Response to “8 column layout design made easy”

October 24, 2014 at 4:01 pm, Rebecca Evans said:

Hi Jim,
When designing a yearbook spread, should all captions be the same size? Width? Height?

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Jim Jordan

Jim Jordan is a Special Consultant for Walsworth Yearbooks and the host of the Yearbook Chat with Jim podcast. He is former yearbook adviser at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks, California. Jim was the 1996 JEA Yearbook Adviser of the Year, and shares his expertise with students and advisers at workshops and conventions across the country. Jim is the lead mentor for Walsworth's Adviser Mentor Program.