Creating Page Layouts

 30-35 min


Effective document design depends on a clear visual structure that conveys and complements the main message. The right layout should provide a consistent framework to help you organize the various elements of your pages, but should also be flexible enough to let you exercise your creativity.

In the tutorial Page Layout Design, we explore the various ways that layout elements can be placed together on an underlying invisible grid structure.

In this tutorial, we’ll introduce you to the various elements of the grid, and show you how to set up a basic grid structure in PagePlus.

By the end of this tutorial you will be able to:

To download the tutorial project file(s), right-click the  link(s) and, depending on your browser, select either Save Target As... or Save Link As... In the subsequent dialog, ensure that you choose a suitable file location, such as a 'downloads' folder or the 'desktop', so that you can easily browse to your file when required.







Let’s begin...

  1. On the File menu, click New > New from Startup Wizard...

  2. In the Create section, click Start New Publication.

  1. Choose A4 or Letter size paper, and click OK.

    A single, blank page will open in the workspace.

Clean Design mode and layout grid theory

In Clean Design mode (default), layout guides only display when an object is created or moved near to them. This is useful during the design process but, to help us work through this tutorial, we will switch Clean Design mode off to set up our publication.

To toggle Clean Design view:

The grid is a traditional layout tool that dates back to the days when text was typeset onto vertical strips of paper, which were then manually cut and pasted onto card sheets. The print production process has changed dramatically since then, but the grid is still a popular page layout tool because it provides some crucial functions—for both reader and designer.

A grid structure—such as the one illustrated here—makes it easier to provide consistency on a page by helping to determine such things as the width of text columns, the space around images and graphic objects, the placement of repeating elements throughout a multi-page document, and so on. As you work with the grid, you’ll find that having these guidelines for object placement significantly speeds up the layout process, and helps to ensure that your final layout will be a success.

So, how to get started?

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Setting up layout guides

Layout guides are visual lines that help you position layout elements, either ‘by eye’ or with snapping turned on (you’ll find the Snapping button on the Arrange toolbar). Layout guides include page margins, row and column guides, and bleed area guides. In PagePlus, margins are shown as solid blue lines; row, column, and bleed area guides are shown as dashed blue lines.

To set up layout guides:

  1. On the Pages context toolbar, click Publication Setup (or click File, then Publication Setup...).

    The Publication Setup dialog opens.

  2. In the Margins > Row and Column Guides section:

  1. In the Bleed Guides section, set the Bleed area guides (the ‘trim edge’ of the page) to 0.3 cm.

  2. Click OK.

    You should now see a 5 x 5 blue grid superimposed on your page as well as the bleed/trim area. You can immediately add content to your page, using the grid as a guide to line up objects.

 Save now! On the File menu click Save As... In the dialog, browse to the location in which you want to save the file, type in a new name and click Save.

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Adding ruler guides

You can set up horizontal and vertical ‘snap-to’ ruler guides—non-printing, solid red lines that you can use to align headlines, pictures, and other layout elements. Ruler guides are useful when you wish to temporarily break away from the column/row grid, but still wish to align objects.

There are two ways to create ruler guides:

To create a ruler guide automatically:

  1. On the Pages context toolbar, click Ruler Guides.

  2. In the Ruler Guides dialog, type the desired position of your guide into the Horizontal or Vertical box, and then click Add.

  3. Repeat step 2 as required to add more guides, and then click OK.

Solid red lines now indicate the ruler guides you created.

To create a guide manually:

With these ruler guides now added, you can get a little more creative with your design...

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Moving, deleting, resetting and locking guides

Once column, row, and ruler guides have been added to your page, you can move, reset, delete, and lock them at any time.

To move column/row guides:

You will have to adjust the row and column guides on each page of your document.

To reset column/row guides:

To move a ruler guide:

To delete ruler guides:

To locking column, row, and ruler guides:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options....

  2. On the left, expand the Layout category and click Display.

  3. Select the Lock guide lines check box and click OK.

Locking guides will prevent your from accidently altering page column, row, and ruler guides. However, to continue with this tutorial, you will need to repeat the above process to unlock your guides.

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Creating asymmetrical grids

Once you’ve set up your basic row and column guides, you can manually adjust them to make your layouts even more flexible. This feature is particularly useful for setting up asymmetrical grid layouts, such as the three-column layout illustrated here.

To create an asymmetrical grid

  1. With your page set up as a 5 x 5 grid (as discussed earlier), click View Master Pages.

  2. Manually add ruler guides to the page to mark the asymmetrical grid units—in our example, we created three columns with one half the size of the other two. (See Adding ruler guides.)

  3. On the Pages context toolbar, click Publication Setup (or click File, then Publication Setup...).

    The Publication Setup dialog opens.

  4. In the Margins > Row and Column Guides section, set the number of Columns to 1, and then click OK.

Your ruler guides marking the asymmetric grid will now appear on all pages which use the master page.

 Don't forget to save your work!

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Using the dot grid

PagePlus provides an optional dot grid, which you can use for precise placement of layout elements. If required, you can customize the dot grid—for example, by changing the grid display type and colour.

To display or hide the dot grid:

To customize the dot grid:

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.

  2. In the left Options list, expand the Layout category and click Snapping.

  3. Select the Dot Grid check box.

  4. Make the following changes as required:

  5. In the Grid dots every box, choose the dot grid spacing.

  6. To highlight certain lines, set the Subdivisions. In our example, every fifth line is highlighted.

  7. In the Grid style drop-down list, choose the grid display type.

    For example, to create the graph-paper effect shown here, choose Solid.

  8. In the Colour box, click to select a new grid colour from the drop-down palette. If you are using subdivisions, mid to light greys produce the clearest display.

Using spreads

When reading any multi-page document, we expect a certain consistency from page to page. For example, we expect to find page numbers, footnotes, sidebar text, and so on, in the same place on each page. When all the text and design elements in a document have a consistent look and feel, readability is significantly enhanced.

Let’s now explore some of the other options in the Publication Setup dialog which will allow us to achieve this consistency in a longer publication.

To open a new document and add additional pages:

  1. On the File menu, click New > New from Startup Wizard....

  2. In the Create section, click Start New Publication.

  3. Choose A4 or Letter size paper, and click OK.

    A single, blank page will open in the workspace.

  4. On the Pages context toolbar, click Page Manager (or click Insert, then Page).

  5. In the Page Manager dialog, on the Insert tab:

To set up spread/facing pages:

  1. On the Pages context toolbar, click Publication Setup (or click File, then Publication Setup...).

    The Publication Setup dialog opens.

  2. To set up the page layout as facing pages (also known as spreads), select the Facing pages check box.

  3. To set up dual master pages (allowing you to run elements across the spread in the background of the publication, or position left- and right-side page numbers), select the Dual master pages check box.

  4. Click OK.

You will now see a double-page spread—pages 2 and 3 of your document, as indicated in the Hintline toolbar.

The blue box outlining the pages indicates the default page margins.

If you are producing a large document which you intend to print and bind, you will need to adjust and design to page margins. To prevent content from disappearing into the bound publication's spine, you will need to set a wider margin on the right side of left (verso) pages and the left side of right (recto) pages. In other words, you need to set a wider inside margin. Let's look at this now.

To set page margins:

  1. On the Pages context toolbar, click Publication Setup (or click File, then Publication Setup...).

    The Publication Setup dialog opens.

  2. In the Margins > Margin Guides section:

  3. Select the Mirrored margins check box.

    This tells PagePlus to change the 'Left' margin setting to the ‘Inside’ margin, and the 'Right' margin to the ‘Outside’ margin on both facing pages.

  1. If you intend on adding a header with page numbering, and book and chapter titles:

  2. Set the Top page margin to 2.00 cm.

  3. Set the Bottom page margin to 1.00 cm.

You can now set up column, row, bleed, and ruler guides as previously discussed in this tutorial.

 Don't forget to save your work!

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What’s next?

If you’ve followed the steps of this tutorial, you should now know how to set up a grid layout for any type of publication.

When you are happy with your layout, you can start placing your text and graphic elements onto it. For more layout ideas and inspiration, see the tutorial Page Layout Design.