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Grid Basics

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By nokari   |   
© 2010 - 2020 nokari
A brief visual introduction to grids for graphic designers and typographers.
anonymous's avatar
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vmstudio's avatar
vmstudioStudent Interface Designer
many thanks !
karkalho's avatar
Thanks, i already use indesign for that, but i thought that illustrator could be the same tools or cheats to do that....
You rock! That explanation helped me to improve time on making grid... I always lose so much time calculating all areas... Great job... Keep going!
karkalho's avatar
i`m looking for a simple way to make my own grid set in adobe illustrator... So anyone knows how to do that, without complex calculations? i mean, one method in the software, which allow set all kind stuff listed above, like Margins, Columns, Rows....? thanks!
nokari's avatar
nokariProfessional Interface Designer
I don't recommend using Illustrator if you need to set out a grid for anything complex or across multiple artboards. InDesign is best for that.
When I do make grids I use 2 techniques, though there may actually be a grid making feature I just haven't found yet.

1) Create a rectangle to the exact dimensions of the area you want to put a grid. If you need margins around the artboard, make the rectangle to the edges of the margins and not to the edges of the artboard.
With the rectangle selected, go to Object > Path > Split into Grid.
Set the number of columns and rows you want. (adjust as necessary)
Either make the rectangles into outlines to use as your grid and lock them in place, or drag guides to where they all meet up.

2) If you figure out spacing before you lay down a grid, create rectangles the width and/or height you need and drag guides to their edges to create a grid manually.
AkumaKuma's avatar
AkumaKumaStudent Digital Artist
I really like this :D
MartinSilvertant's avatar
MartinSilvertantProfessional General Artist
This is nothing new to me, however I must praise you on creating a very easy to follow tutorial. Very well crafted.
pianof's avatar
Sorry if the question is kind of dumb, but how do you usually go about making grids?
nokari's avatar
nokariProfessional Interface Designer
My examples were made using Adobe InDesign because that's what I normally use, but you can do it any way you want, be it with software or drawn by hand. You can use grid paper, a ruler and pencil, draw lines with a line tool in your software, or preferably use whatever grid functions your software has. Most word processors have some form of grid options.
pianof's avatar
nnn not so much the technical side of how does one make a grid in program x, but more how does one decide upon dimensions/gutters/margins in the first place?
nokari's avatar
nokariProfessional Interface Designer
It's up to you. You can be daring and go all the way to the edge on something, you can use the Golden Rule to pick out geometric lines, or you can be modest and use a simple layout based on the ratios of the paper's sides. There just has to be a reason for what you choose. I would suggest looking at a bunch of different books and measuring margins and gutters to gain a reference. You may see some books where the text looks good and others that don't. Take note of the ones that don't look good and think about why it doesn't look good.
As for the size of a page, that depends on the content and how you want to present it. The ideal line lengths for text are between 35-75 characters (an average of 65 is ideal) and you need to decide for yourself how you want to layout the text on the page. 1-3 sentences can be put in wide or short paragraphs, but any more than that and the text gets harder to read. Long lines make it harder to find your place when you jump from one side of the page to the other and short lines make your eyes jump around too much.
Text can also be more pleasing to the eye when it's asymmetrical on the page. You could choose a 4-column layout and put text on each page in only 1 column on the side of the page. If the columns are slim, you could put your body text across 2 columns, leave the next column blank, and put small quotes in the remaining column. You can see examples of this in the guide. The point is that it's up to you to decide how you want to present your information and that you use a grid to maintain consistency. You can break the grid (go outside the lines), but there has to be a reason for it and it must be consistent, otherwise it will look out of place or as a mistake.

Here is some more advanced information on choosing grids: [link]

The point of a grid is that it's a guide you make for yourself. There's no magic answer for what works best. It's simply a matter of does it have harmony and does it provide consistent structure.
pianof's avatar
Cool. Thanks so much! /goes to read
Eyestrain's avatar
Very helpful, thank you very much. My classes don't teach graphic design, though we are expected to use it in assignments. Guides like these are very helpful!

If you don't mind me asking, is there also a rule of thumb for changing the type of grid from page to page? Is it considered more appropriate to keep the same grid for a number of pages before changing it up? What are your thoughts on this?
nokari's avatar
nokariProfessional Interface Designer
Keep the same grid throughout. The idea is to make one with enough guides to allow variations from page to page, but the overall grid should be the same.
Eyestrain's avatar
I see, thank you.
EIGHTIETH's avatar
EIGHTIETHHobbyist General Artist
Thank-you so much! I've never actually used a grid before. :)
MATAPOLLOSHobbyist General Artist
yeah man, dunno if you'd read it but i found it really interesting! even though it's not something i would use dialy cos i'm not used to do this kind of stuff... really really interesting! cheers!
NewJayne's avatar
It's great! Thanks.
Landylachs's avatar
LandylachsProfessional Digital Artist
Very good guide :thumbsup:
H-A-designs's avatar
H-A-designsProfessional Interface Designer
Thanks this looks very good.
no-preview's avatar
no-previewProfessional General Artist
My personal quote is "Grid or Die" ..:peace:

I like it.
MayFong's avatar
MayFongHobbyist Digital Artist
Most Indeededly! :D
rawimage's avatar
rawimageHobbyist Photographer
Comadreja's avatar
ComadrejaProfessional Digital Artist
very nice!
anonymous's avatar
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