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Is There Such a Thing as a Perfect Page Layout?

By , About.com Guide

Question: Is There Such a Thing as a Perfect Page Layout?
While there is no single perfect way to compose a page, there are some generally accepted rules or guidelines that can help you put together an attractive publication that's free of many common page layout ailments.
Answer: These page layout rules won't always work for you, but nine times out of ten they'll give you the results you want with the least amount of trial and error -- as close to a perfect page layout as anyone can get.

As you read each page layout rule, mentally insert the phrase "In general" before each rule. In general, these are the guidelines to follow:

  • Ad Design
    If an ad is well-designed, it will look just as good upside down as it does right side up.
  • Alignment
    Everything on the page should align with something else. A grid is an effective tool in insuring that text and images align. Break alignment only for emphasis and sparingly within a piece.
  • Initial Caps
    Avoid placing initial caps in the lower one-third of the page. They tend to draw the eye prematurely to the bottom of the page and visually weigh down or clutter the lower portion of the page.
  • Rule of Thirds
    Visually divide your page into thirds. Place elements on the page within these thirds for a more interesting and visually appealing layout.
  • Single Visual
    One of the simplest and perhaps most powerful layouts use one strong visual combined with a strong (usually short) headline plus additional text.
  • Size
    One measure of importance is size. Use larger graphics to communicate the most important goals of the piece. Smaller graphics are of lesser importance. When space is at a premium, drop the smaller elements first — they are less important.
  • Margins
    • Avoid using the same margins on all sides of a publication. In facing-page documents, the inside margin should be smaller than the outside margins. The bottom margin is usually larger than any other margins.

    • In publications with facing pages, the outside margin of each page should be double the inside margin.

    • For best appearance, margins should be sized progressively from smallest to largest: inside, top, outside, bottom.
  • Z Layout
    Mentally impose the letter Z or a backwards S on the page. Place important items or those you want the reader to see first along the top of the Z. The eye normally follows the path of the Z, so place your "call to action" at the end of the Z.

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