Grid (page layout)

Grid (page layout)

A typographic grid is a two-dimensional structure made up of a series of intersecting vertical and horizontal axes used to structure content. The grid serves as an armature on which a designer can organize text and images in a rational, easy to absorb manner. The less common printing term “reference grid,” is an unrelated system with roots in the early days of printing.



Before the invention of movable type and printing, simple grids based on optimal proportions had been used to arrange handwritten text on pages. One such system, known as the “Villard’s diagram,” was in use at least since mediaeval times.

Evolution of the modern grid

After World War II, a number of graphic designers, including Max Bill, Emil Ruder, and Josef Müller-Brockmann, influenced by the modernist ideas of Jan Tschichold's "Die neue Typographie" (The New Typography), began to question the relevance of the conventional page layout of the time. They began to devise a flexible system able to help designers achieve coherency in organizing the page. The result was the modern typographic grid that became associated with the International Typographic Style. The seminal work on the subject, "Grid systems in graphic design" by Müller-Brockmann, helped propagate the use of the grid, first in Europe, and later in North America.

Reaction and reassessment

By the mid 1970s instruction of the typographic grid as a part of graphic design curricula had become standard in Europe, North America and much of Latin America. The graphic style of the grid was adopted as a look for corporate communication. In the early 1980s, a reaction against the entrenchment of the grid, particularly its dogmatic use, and association with corporate culture, resulted in some designers rejecting its use in favor of more organic structure. The appearance of the Apple Macintosh computer, and the resulting transition away from type being set by typographers to designers setting type themselves resulted in a wave of experimentation, much of it contrary to the precepts of Tschichold and Müller-Brockmann. The typographic grid continues to be taught today, but more as a useful tool for some projects, not as a requirement or starting point for all page design.

Grid use in modern web design

Web developers have only recently started to show a real interest in grid systems. Why it has taken so many years for web developers to become interested in something that has been essential to the written medium in general since the 30s, is hard to say - the technology, namely HTML and CSS, has been around for a while, but has only recently been applied to the implementation of grid-based layout systems for web pages.

* "Designer [ Mark Boulton] " has written a [ tutorial] on the subject of grid use in web design.

* "New York Times" design director Khoi Vinh used the typographic grid in the design of that publication's online version, and wrote [ an article] about the process.

* A simple framework called [ Blueprint] has been developed, for implementation of grid-based layout in web pages.

* Another simple CSS grid framework is the [ 960 Grid System] by Nathan Smith, who explains the rationale behind it on his [ blog] .

* " [ Grid Designer] " is a visual grid and typography design tool that works in most standard web browsers.

* An [ article] by graphic designer [ Antonio Carusone] on how to design grid systems for Flash.

* A Photoshop file which serves as a [ starting point for grid-based web design]

ee also

* Canons of page construction


*Baines, Phil and Haslam, Andrew. "Type & Typography," second edition. New York: Waston-Guptill Publications, 2005. ISBN 0-8230-5528-0.
*Burnhill, Peter. "Type spaces: in house norms in the typography of Aldus Manutius." London: Hyphen Press, 2003. p. 101.
*Elam, Kimberly. "Grid Systems: Principles of Organizing Type." Princeton Architectural Press: 2004. ISBN 1-56898-465-0.
*Hochuli, Jost. "Designing Books: Practice and Theory."
*Hurlburt, Allen. "Grid: A Modular System for the Design and Production of Newpapers, Magazines, and Books." Wiley: 1982. ISBN 0-471-28923-X.
*Le Corbusier "The Modular I".
*Müller-Brockmann, Josef. "Grid Systems in Graphic Design." Niggli: 1996. ISBN 3721201450
*Ruder, Emil. "Typography." Hastings House: 1981. ISBN 0-8038-7223-2.
*Rudolf Bosshard, Hans. "The Typographic Grid". Niggli: 2002. ISBN 3-7212-0340-2.
*Khoi Vinh, "Oh Yeeaah! Grids are good", South by Southwest Conference Presentation, 2007. []
*Antonio Carusone, "Designing Grid Systems For Flash". []

External links

* [ Design by grid] Articles, Resources, Showcase, Tutorials

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