Structure your publication design using layout guides

Applies to
Microsoft® Office Publisher 2003

Every layout design starts with a blank page, but underlying every good design is a structure that provides order and coherence to the elements on the page. To create this underlying structure, designers use a layout grid that gives them the form and flexibility to create a design that benefits them and the reader.

Mostly, a layout grid divides the page into proportional sections of columns or rows, but there are other aspects of a layout grid that are more subtle. Your page margins may strongly affect the usability of the page, as will the alignment of your text to a baseline grid. While it looks simple, setting up a usable, effective layout grid is most of the work involved in designing a page.

While this article won't attempt to teach all the principles of design, it will show how you can use the various layout guides in Publisher—margin guides, column guides, row guides, baseline guides, and ruler guides—as compositional tools to create publications that have a sense of balance and uniformity.

Layout grid

Figure 1: A typical layout grid

Before you set up your layout guides

All layout guides except ruler guides are only on a master page. Even though you can adjust them when working on a publication page, the changes you make to the layout guides apply to the master page used by that publication page—and also to every other publication page that uses the same master page.

You should create a new master page for each layout grid in your publication. You can create as many master pages as you need different layout grids for the pages in your publication. For example, you might have a separate layout grid for the front page of a newsletter, and separate layout grids for 2-column and three-column inside pages of the same newsletter.

For more information about setting up master pages, see the article Getting the most out of multiple master pages.

Before laying out your publication, you may also want to consider using points as your default measurement units. Using points gives you better precision when setting up your guides. It is also more convenient if you need to coordinate the dimension of your layout area with your body text font size, which is always measured in points.

ShowSet your default measurement units to points

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.
  2. In the Options dialog box, click the General tab.
  3. In the Measurement units box, select points (point: A typographical unit of measure that is equal to one seventy-second of an inch. Twelve points equals one pica.).

Which guides are which?

By default, all layout guides, except baseline guides, are visible. You can make guides visible or hidden as you want.

Showhide or show margin guides, column guides, row guides and ruler guides

  • On the View menu, click Boundaries and Guides.

ShowShow or hide baseline guides

  • On the View menu, click Baseline Guides.

Each type of guide is a different color:

  • Margin guides, column guides, and row guides display as blue lines.
  • The center guide between columns or rows displays as a red dotted line.
  • Baseline guides display as gold dotted lines.
  • Ruler guides display as green dotted lines.

Snapping to guides

To help positioning elements precisely, you can set them to snap to your layout guides.

ShowTurn snap to guides on or off

  • On the Arrange menu, point to Snap, and then click To Guides.

When you drag objects on the page they will automatically snap to align with any margin guides, column guides, rows guides, ruler guides, or baseline guides. Objects will snap even if the guides are hidden.

You might also find it helpful to turn off the command to snap to ruler marks and to objects. Sometimes snapping to these items will interfere with snapping to guides.

ShowTurn snap to ruler marks or snap to objects on or off

  • On the Arrange menu, point to Snap, and then click either of the following:
    • To Ruler Marks
    • To Objects

The sections that follow, will go into detail about how to set up each particular kind of guide and provide some basic information on how to use them as part of a comprehensive layout grid for your pages. With some pre-planning—and a little bit of easy math—you can get a professional look to your page designs.

Margin guides

Margin guides and text columns

Margin guides and baseline guides

Column guides

Row guides

Baseline guides

Aligning text to the baseline guides

Ruler guides

Margin guides

Getting the page margins right is more important than you may think. Page margins define the central area of the page and can have a strong effect on the aesthetic appeal of your layout. Pages with narrow margins look heavy and uninviting to a reader. Pages that have overlarge margins accentuate the main content, but leave little room for it.

Different kinds of publications require different margins. Typically a newsletter or magazine layout will have fairly narrow margins. Books would typically use a larger margin in proportion to the size of the pages. For example, if your publication is a book with 8-inch by 9-inch pages, you would use a larger margin than if it were a booklet that is 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches.

You should take into account the need for larger top and bottom margins if you will have headers or footers on the page. Similarly, if the page will have a banner, as for a newsletter, you will typically want it to be above the top margin guide, so you should account for that when you set your top margin for the main page.

ShowSet up margin guides for a single page

  1. On the Arrange menu, click Layout Guides.
  2. Click the Margin Guides tab.
  3. Under Margin Guides, type the values you want for Left, Right, Top, and Bottom.

When setting up your page margins, you also need to take account of the binding edge of your pages. Typically, this edge will have a larger margin than your other page edges to account for the fact that some part of that edge may be lost in certain kinds of binding, and also to make the elements on that edge more readable.

ShowSet up margin guides for a a two-page spread

  1. On the Arrange menu, click Layout Guides.
  2. Click the Margin Guides tab.
  3. Under Master Pages, select Two-page master.
  4. Under Margin Guides, type the values you want for Inside, Outside, Top, and Bottom.

The inside margin is for the binding edge of the two page spread. On an odd-numbered page, this is the left side; on an even-numbered page, it is the right side.

Additionally, you may find it useful to use ruler guides in addition to margin guides to align elements, such as headers, footers, and banners, that are outside the central area that is bounded by the margin guides.

Margin guides and text columns

When setting up your margins, you should consider how many columns of text you will have on the page. The number of characters in a column of text plays an important role in readability. For a single column, an average of 50 to 75 characters per line in a 10- to 12-point font is considered good. For multiple columns, the average should be about 40 to 50 characters per line.

Without going into a lot of typographic detail, a good rule of thumb is to consider an acceptable column width to be 20 to 30 times the point size of your text. For example, a column of text in an 11-point font would ideally be between 3 inches and 4.5 inches:

20 x 11 = 220 pts ÷ 72 = 3.05 inches

30 x 11 = 330 pts ÷ 72 = 4.58 inches

 Note   There are 72 points in an inch.

If you want wider columns, you could use a 12-point font (3.3 inches to 5 inches). If you want narrower columns you could use a 10-point or even a 9-point font (2.5 inches to 3.5 inches).

Once you determine how many and how wide your text columns will be, add their widths—including any amount of gutter between the columns—and then make sure that your right and left margin guides are set to create an amount of space between them that will accommodate the columns. For more information about setting up your columns, see the section Column guides below.

Margin guides and baseline guides

Like the relationship between your text columns and margin guides, you should coordinate the distance between the top and bottom margin guides with the leading grid you create using baseline guides. The leading grid is the invisible horizontal grid to which you align your body text.

Ideally, the distance between your top and bottom margin guides should be an exact multiple of the amount of spacing between the lines of your baseline guides. Otherwise, you will have extra space at the bottom of your text columns.

ShowSet up your margin guides to match your baseline guides

  1. Determine the page height in points.
  2. Estimate in points the size you want for your top and bottom margins, add these, and then subtract the sum from your page height. This is how much space you have between your top and bottom margin guides.

For example, if your page size is 11 inches (792 pts) and you want 0.75-inch (54 pts) top and bottom margins, subtract 108 from 792 to get 684.

  1. Divide the space between your guides by the amount of baseline guides spacing you want.

For example, if your baseline guides spacing is 14 points, divide 684 by 14 to get 48.857. This is the number of lines of text that will fit between the top and bottom margin guides.

  1. If the result is not a whole number, choose the closest whole number as the number of text lines you will have, and then multiply that by your baseline guides spacing amount to get the adjusted amount of space between your top and bottom margin guides.

For example, choose 49 as the number of lines you want, and then multiply 49 times 14 to get 686. This is the adjusted space between your top and bottom margins.

  1. Add to or subtract from your margin values so that the sum of the top and bottom margins plus the adjusted amount of space between the top and bottom margin guides equals the height of your page.

For example, you would need to reset your top and bottom margin guides to 53 points each:

53 + 53 + 686 = 792

 Note   You will need to adjust your text boxes to make sure that the text actually rests on the bottom margin guide. For more about setting up a leading grid using baseline guides, see the section Baseline guides below.

Column guides

Together with margin guides, columns make up the most important part of the underlying layout grid. How you set up your columns will determine how versatile you can be with your page design.

To use columns effectively, think of them as guides that subdivide the horizontal dimension of your page and not merely as the outlines for your columns of text. In other words, the number of columns you use for your layout grid are not necessarily equal to the number of columns of text.

For example, if you plan to use two columns of text on the page, you might set up four or five narrow columns. When you create the text boxes for your text, you would make them two columns wide each. This way you have a subdivision for each column that allows you to align other elements, such as pictures or pull quotes, with the overall grid.

Two columns on a four columns grid

Figure 2: Two columns on a four-column grid with a picture aligned in the center

If you used a five-column grid, the fifth column could be used on the outside or inside of the others to allow additional area for elements that are partially or entirely outside the text block.

Two columns on a five-column grid

Figure 3: Two columns on a five-column grid.

With a six-column grid, you can get a finer amount of precision since it subdivides each or your two text columns into three.

two columns on a six-column grid

Figure 4: Two columns on a six-column grid

As noted in the section Margin guides above, make sure to coordinate your columns with your left and right (or inside and outside) margin guides. When you count the number of columns, consider all the columns in your grid, not just the number of text columns. When you set the number of columns, Publisher will equally divide the space between the two margin guides into as many columns as you specify.

ShowSet up column guides

  1. On the Arrange menu, click Layout Guides.
  2. Click the Grid Guides tab.
  3. Under Column Guides, type or select the number of columns you want in the Columns box.
  4. In the Spacing box, type or select the amount of spacing (gutter) you want between columns.
  5. If you want a center divider in the gutter between each column, select Add center guide between columns and rows.
  6. Click OK.

Once you have your columns set up, you can move them to create columns that are wider or narrower than the others.

ShowMove a column guide

  1. On the View menu, click Master Page.
  2. In the Edit Master Pages task pane, click the arrow next to the master page whose guides you want to move, and then click Edit.
  3. Position the mouse pointer over the row guide until you see the Adjust pointer Resize pointer (double-headed arrow).
  4. Drag the guide to its new position.
  5. To return to your publication page, click Master Page on the View menu.

ShowReset columns to be evenly spaced

  1. On the Arrange menu, click Layout Guides.
  2. Click the Grid Guides tab.
  3. Under Column Guides, select Reset even column widths.
  4. Click OK.

Row guides

Rows subdivide the vertical space of your page design. They are not as crucial as column guides for establishing your layout grid. They work almost exactly like column guides, except that they run horizontally instead of vertically.

ShowSet up row guides

  1. On the Arrange Menu, click Layout Guides.
  2. Click the Grid Guides tab.
  3. Under Row Guides, type or select the number of rows you want in the Rows box, and then type or select the amount of spacing you want between the row guides in the Spacing box.
  4. Click OK.

ShowMove a row guide

  1. On the View menu, click Master Page.
  2. In the Edit Master Pages task pane, click the arrow next to the master page whose guides you want to move, and then click Edit.
  3. Position the mouse pointer over the row guide until you see the Adjust pointer Double-headed arrow.
  4. Drag the guide to its new position.
  5. To return to your publication page, click Master Page on the View menu.

ShowRest rows to be evenly spaced

  1. On the Arrange menu, click Layout Guides.
  2. Click the Grid Guides tab.
  3. Under Column Guides, select Reset even row heights.
  4. Click OK.

Baseline guides

If you are using a multi-column layout, aligning the text in each column is essential to a good design. Typically, your text flows from one column to the next without regard to horizontal alignment. When elements such as subheadings or pictures interrupt the flow of the body text, they create a misalignment between the lines.

However, you can create a more ordered, professional look by aligning your text to a baseline leading grid using the baseline guides feature in Publisher. Leading (pronounced ledding) is a typographical term that refers to the space between lines of text. The baseline is the invisible line on which the body of a font character rests.

To make a baseline leading grid work for you, you need to determine the following:

  • The font size of your body text
  • The leading for your body text

Typically, the font size for you body text will be somewhere between 10 points and 12 points. The line spacing you use doesn't matter too much since you will align the text to the baseline guides. However, you need to make sure that the line spacing isn't greater than your baseline guides spacing. For this reason, a good thing to do is to make your line spacing the same as your font size.

ShowHow?

  1. On the Format menu, click Styles and Formatting.
  2. In the Styles and Formatting task pane, point to the style you want to change, and then click the down arrow.
  3. Click Modify.
  4. In the Modify Style dialog box, click Font.
  5. In the Font dialog box, under General, note the value in the Size box, and then click OK.
  6. In the Modify Style dialog box, click Paragraph.
  7. Click the Indents and Spacing tab.
  8. Under Line spacing, type the value you noted in step 3 above in the Between lines box. Make sure to type "pt" to indicate that the value is in points.

Once you've set the spacing value for the text, You can set the spacing and offset for your baseline guides. Unlike column guides, row guides, and rulers guides, you don't actually create baseline guides. They are always there, even if they are not visible, but they are only used when you set a paragraph to align to them.

Showset baseline guides spacing and offset

  1. On the Arrange menu, click Layout Guides.
  2. Click the Baseline Guides tab.
  3. Under Horizontal Baseline, type or select a value for Spacing.

This value is the actual leading for all of your paragraphs and paragraph styles that are set to Align text to baseline guides in the Paragraph dialog box. Aligning text to the baseline guides overrides the normal spacing between lines when it is less than the baseline guides spacing. However, if the line spacing is greater than the baseline guides spacing, Publisher will align the text to every other baseline.

When type or select a value for your baseline guides spacing, use a value that is approximately 120% to 150% of the font size you will use for your body text. For example, if your body text is 12 points, use a baseline guides spacing value that is between 14 points and 15 points.

  1. Type or select a value for Offset.

This value is the amount of offset that you want between the first baseline guide and the top margin guide. Typically you will want to set this at the same value as your baseline guides spacing or at 0.

You may want to adjust the offset if you have headings in one column whose tops you want to align to the tops of body text in other columns. However, you should take care when doing this. Remember that baseline guides, like other layout guides, are part of a master page. When you change the baseline guides for one page, you change the master page it uses, which will affect every other publication page that uses the same master page page.

  1. Click OK.

As described in the section Margin guides above, you should set up a leading grid to avoid having empty space at the bottom of your columns. With a leading grid, you can ensure that the last line of your text rests on the bottom margin guides.

Aligning text to the baseline guides

While this is more an aspect of working in a publication after you have set up the layout grid, two things need to be mentioned here that affect how well you can use the leading grid you've set up.

Set text box margins to 0    Publisher's text boxes have a default inner margin of 0.04 inches. Even though this is a very small amount, it is enough to affect how text aligns to the baseline guides. Typically, if the text box has any margin value other than 0, the first line of text and the last will skip and cause empty lines at the top and bottom of your columns. Set the text box margins to 0 to avoid this.

ShowHow?

  1. Right-click the text box, and then click Format Text Box.
  2. In the Format Text Box dialog box, click the Text Box tab.
  3. Under Text Box Margins, type or select "0" for Left, Right, Top, and Bottom.
  4. To make these margins the default for all new text boxes you create in this publication, select Apply settings to new text boxes.
  5. Click OK.

Extend the text box below the last line    However, when you create your text boxes, make sure that they extend a small amount below the bottom margin guide. Because the actual font character extends above and below the baseline, Publisher will not draw a line of text if the space used to draw the bottom parts of the characters (called "descenders") isn't inside the text box. Instead, the line will skip to the top of the next column. Extending the bottom of the text box about 1/3 of the font size of your text, allows Publisher to draw the last line.

Column bottoms

Figure 5: The bottom of two columns showing one last line skipped and the other drawn as expected.

Ruler guides

Apart from the formal structured guides for your publication, you will often find that you need a few guides to help you align particular elements with each other. Publisher provides vertical and horizontal ruler guides that you can quickly drag into place or position precisely.

ShowDrag a ruler guide into place

  1. Do one of the following:
    • To create a horizontal guide, position the mouse pointer over the horizontal ruler until you see the pointer change to Double-headed arrow.
    • To create a vertical guide, position the mouse pointer over the vertical ruler until you see the pointer change to Resize pointer (double-headed arrow).
  2. Drag the pointer until the new guide is where you want it.

 Notes 

  • If the Snap to Ruler Marks command is turned on, the ruler guide will snap to a ruler mark.
  • If the Snap to Objects command is turned on, the guide will snap to an object.
  • If the Snap to Guides command is turned on, the guide will snap to other guides on the page.

ShowPosition ruler guides precisely

  1. On the Arrange menu, point to Ruler Guides, and then click Format Ruler Guides.
  2. Do one of the following:

ShowPrecisely position horizontal ruler guides

  1. Click the Horizontal tab.
  2. Type a value in the Ruler Guide position box, and then click Set.
  3. To add more ruler guides, repeat step 2.
  4. When you have positioned the ruler guides you want, click OK.

ShowPrecisely position vertical ruler guides

  1. Click the Vertical tab.
  2. Type a value in the Ruler Guide position box, and then click Set.
  3. To add more ruler guides, repeat step 2.
  4. When you have positioned the ruler guides you want, click OK.

 Note   When you type the values for the ruler guide position, Publisher uses the same units of measure as the ruler unless you specify another unit of measure. To use inches, type "in" after the value; to use picas, type "pi" after the value; to use centimeters, type "cm" after the value, to use points, type "pt" after the value.

 
 
Applies to:
Publisher 2003