Category: Formatting effective layouts

Exploring Indesign grids and guides

Design Ideas and Design Process 

For my magazine spread, I wanted to create a design that is linear and structural yet still fun and playful to the eye. I loved the idea of using primary colours and hard-edged shapes to create a retro style for the magazine.

I started off by creating the title. I chose to use the font futura because I wanted that blocky sans serif appearance for the magazine. I wanted to have a swiss design approach to my work. I used a 12-column gridline to help establish that linear layout. I organised each A4 page by the rule of thirds horizontally so I could be able to insert all 10 novels whilst including a title. Having this simple structure laid out for me, I was able to have creative freedom with the title and placement of text within each novel/sectioned area. I played a lot around with the use of complementary colours, font size, and placement of the title with how it complimented the space and image of the novel itself. For slides 2-3 specifically, I formed the rule of thirds grid and duplicated it to save time. I then rearranged the titles and sections around so then it would not appear too repetitive to the eye for viewers, yet it was still structurally similar enough to follow along with. Using the rectangular tool, creating many rectangles and box shapes helped me section off areas of text in order to make it easier for viewers to recognise which text pairs with which novel. An example of this would be my last novel in place, “Nineteen-eighty-four by George Orwell. It is clear that that text is sectioned off with that novel due to how I formatted the rectangle.

I also thought creating a separate character style of the year the book was published was a logical move, by minimizing the year of when the novels were released, I not only saved and utilised space in the magazine, but I also placed more focus on the novel and the summary text aside the novel.

Although it was not essential, I thought inputting the book club questions, or the listen recommendations in the magazine would be a good idea to create more of a magazine feel to the design, having smaller subsections enabled me to use left-justified alignments.

Software Tutorials 

My grid/guidlines

Prior to this, I did not know how to use or even turn on the grid lines. I used the Adobe Use Grids Indesign website to help me find out how to adjust the grid lines. This was really useful to me, especially when trying to align all my text and images together. I used a 12-column grid with a 5 margin and I believe this truly allowed me to have more creative freedom when designing this magazine layout because the grids allowed me to spend less time aligning and lining up all the text and images together.

Using the inspo image I found off Pinterest, I thought it would be cool to highlight the titles of books in the caption of the title. Because I did not know how to highlight a certain part of the text and I did not want to create a rectangle for each individual text to highlight, I used a tutorial from creative pro titled “Making a text highlighter”. It demonstrated to me that although there is not an actual tool on indesign that highlights text for you, using paragraph shading and adjusting the offsets and size and shapes can replicate the allusion of highlighting text. Furthermore, because you can adjust the size and shape of it, you can adjust how wide or narrow the highlight can be which I found really useful when creating that box image around certain textboxes I used in my layout.

Something I would love to work on next time is using the baseline shift. In my attempts of using it here, I really struggled given the fact that all my titles were different sizes and were arranged differently, however, if I ever do a project similar to this again, I will be sure to prioritise learning how to familiarise myself with using the baseline shift.

Resources for Research and Inspiration

As stated previously, I did some research using Pinterest to search for design ideas and styles that I was fond of, I came across this image of a fun magazine layout that I was heavily influenced by. Not only did I use the colours in my magazine, I also was heavily influenced in some of the formatting techniques or styles established in this layout as well. I loved the blockage of the yellow and the bold titles designed in this. My magazine was very much influenced by this image itself.

Like I said before, I had to do some research on learning how to highlight text on InDesign as I was unfamiliar on how to do so myself, I found this website more helpful than others online because it gave a step-by-step tutorial whilst seeming very updated to how InDesign is structured now. As the majority of my text within the magazine is highlighted, my design would not look how it is now without this crucial skill I learned.

Learning Throughout the Module 

Some skills I’ve learnt throughout the module would be certainly learning and understanding the basic uses of all three softwares: Photoshop, Indesign, and Illustrator. However, I also managed to learn more in-depth skills and techniques such as cutting out images using paths and lines, using grid lines and paragraph styles on InDesign, as well as familiarising myself with paths and vectors in illustrator. Although I am still very new to using these softwares, I am feeling more comfortable using it after each time or task I have achieved.

Leaflet to the mind.

Design 1 (final design)


Design Ideas and Design Process

This project only consisted of creating one design, this design is my final piece. I began by researching leaflet layouts so I could understand the concept and layout of them to be able to create my own. I used a step by step tutorial on how to create a flyer linked here ( this gave me modern ideas and a good base layout to follow. My goals for this flyer was to create something people would be interested in reading, that wasn’t too much information that people would get bored. I feel like I did well by having a large image whilst having enough text for people to understand what the flyer was about and then when and where you can listen to this radio show. All of the information was placed into indesign using paragraph styles for headings and paragraph layouts and then character styles for bullet points and hyperlinks. I used shape tools to add an image into the flyer, the image I chose is of a man, however, I see it from a creative perspective, he looks as though he is thinking about something and that ties into the theme of rethinking. The radio topics are about rethinking fairness in education, religion and health, personally I believe this picture depicts that so simply. I used the type on path feature to curve the title to the image, I did this because it fit well with the shape of the image. By using bullet points and changing the colour of the dates I could make them stand out without having to make them a large type size that would not fit with the flyer. Finally, I took a screen grab from the bbc website so I could use the same colours for my flyer.

Colour swatch from the website.
Character Styles I used to create my flyer.
Paragraph styles used in my flyer.
Clickable URL – linking to the website.
Bullet Points used to help the dates stand out.



Modern flair element to remove negative space.









Software Tutorials 

To help me with my design I used paragraph and character styles, at first I had to understand what the difference was between the two, character styles are best for lists or bullet points whereas paragraph styles works for paragraphs and headings. By watching this youtube tutorial it made me feel ,ore comfortable on my understanding of these styles and their purposes. I have very minimal indesign knowledge but our book project at the beginning of University helped give me a good level of understanding. This helped me to create order through my Title, headings and paragraphs.

I also watched a tutorial on how to curve text in indesign using this tutorial ( This helped me find a new tool, the type on path tool which allowed me to write along the image I had previously imported, this is much easier than having to envelope or warp.

I also used a tutorial offered on the brief ( This tutorial allowed me to follow along each section and feel comfortable when following along. Being able to see how to input an image so easily and be given modern examples of designs. This is why I placed a blue rectangle along the introduction to give a contrasting colour and fill some negative space.

In the future I want to learn how to use parent pages in more depth for larger documents to allow for a faster and easier solution to creating documents. I would also like to improve my character style knowledge and further develop its purpose. My next idea will be to try and make a magazine to improve my indesign knowledge.


Design Resources and Articles,vid:SSniSPcPKcg

This source that I found helped me from beginning to end starting with the settings to get my A5 flyer and the circle for my image. Learning how to place text and get the right size and leading to ensure that my text is legible. I used the step by step guide from adobe and the youtube video to influence my flyer.

This tutorial helped me discover how you place bullet points into the flyer, I was very confused until I learned that you have to create a character style and then add a bullet point in and place your distance measurement.

This is the link to the BBC website that I created the flyer for, by researching the business I was able to understand what the company does and what they expect from the leaflet. I saw that the three main colours featured on their website are blue, orange and fushia, I swatched these and tried to incorporate these colours into my flyer, however, I couldn’t seem to get a perfect match.


Learning throughout the Module 

TY1SK had a quiz module and I struggled with a few questions, however, I have improved since the first time I took the quiz back in October which shows that I am learning from this module. Teaching ourselves this module can be difficult at times but it means that you learn a lot because it is the only way you will find out. In the beginning of the year I had no graphics knowledge but after 6 months of learning I feel like I am really starting to understand Adobe software. I have excelled most in illustrator because I have used it the most, doing the movie poster and the pictograms and now the leaflet as part of TY1DP1.  I need to work a lot more on my photoshop skills because the only learning experience I have is from skills and it is very minimal, I believe learning to edit photos will improve my images for my essays. Finally, Indesign was extremely hard to learn, I learned how to create a penguin book in indesign which gave me the ability to understand how to use parent pages and paragraph styles, character styles, folios and much more, however, because I didn’t keep using it this knowledge had to be learned again.  This module has really helped me understand different kinds of adobe software and improves my ability in class and assignments throughout other modules.


using grids and rulers to design effective magazine spreads

Design ideas and design process

The fourth task I chose was to format effective layouts on Indesign. The brief required me to transfer information about ten novels from a website to a magazine spread, and since I’ve always struggled with my Indesign work looking blocky and unrealistic, I decided to challenge myself with this task.

I began this project by researching and analysing real-life magazine spreads to identify conventions and work out what I though worked well and what didn’t. I mainly looked on Pinterest and at physical magazines I had laying around. I was particularly inspired by these two designs:

Figure 1: A magazine spread that inspired me (via:
Figure 2: Another magazine spread that inspired me (via:
Figure 3: My initial sketches, combining ideas I had seen in the magazine spreads I’d researched












I decided to incorporate elements of these spreads into my designs. I was really inspired by the use of columns and the statement title in Figure 1, and the more abstract design and use of a vertical title in Figure 2. I then created some sketches referencing some of the designs I saw and how I could use them (see Figure 3).

Next, I moved to Indesign and followed some tutorials to help me set up grids and columns. Through my research, I had noticed that text arranged in columns was found in almost every layout, so this became something I felt was important for me to do too.

Figure 4: setting up 3 columns
Figure 5: setting up 4 columns

These were two layout designs that I experimented with, but decided I didn’t like so I did not continue them. I didn’t think they felt like magazine spreads and the components did not fit well into columns which is something I wanted to do.





To progress my first idea, I googled how to create drop caps on Indesign, and used this to enlarge the size of my numbers. This created hierachy within my design as the numbers were clear seperators of my text and were suggested as the most important part to look at. I further created hierachy using paragraph styles to select the characteristics of the book titles and the body text. As my design progresses, I could easily change the characteristics of every book title by changing it in paragraph styles. Using paragraph styles was one of the most useful and time-efficent techniques I used.

The progression of my design can be seen below.


I am really happy with the result of this design and think it looks effective and like it could be a real life magazine. I think all the components work well, especially the combination of the bold sans-serif title and the sans-serif body text. I am also happy with my visually exciting colour scheme, and I’m very happy I changed it from the white it originally was, as the lime green is far more eye-catching. I used a very refined colour palette of simply lime green, a darker green shade, black and white. I think this works perfectly, and has a modern feel. I think the image also nicely balances out the composition and the page number and editor name at the bottom make the spread look realistic. Overall I’m really happy with this piece and impressed that I actually managed to make it in Indesign, as I’ve struggled with it so much before.


The progression of my second design can be seen below:

I yet again used grids and paragraph styles to create uniformitivity and make it look like a real life magazine. I had initially started to try and replicate one of my magazine sketches (Figure 5). The design composed of strips alternating in positioning. Once I had started to create this design, I decided to not follow it through as I didn’t see it working for a magazine and looked far too basic. The sideways text was inspired by a magazine I had seen (Figure 2) and I felt like it would add an abstract and fun look to the spread. I remembered how to use the gradient tools from last task so I used a blue gradient background and combined it with a contrasting bright orange title. I then added the rest of the title in white horizontal text to rebalance the composition. I used the grid and paragraph style tools to design and make the book boxes uniformed. The rounded edges of the boxes prevent the grid from looking overly uniformed and blocky.

Overall my aim with this design was to be eye-catching and engaging and to be able to get the most important parts (like the title) across first and then add the other information, with stuff less important (like the listen to/ watch) smaller, which I feel that I have sucessfully achieved.

Software Tutorials

This image taught me about the importance of grids and columns within magazine layouts and inspired some of my inital sketches and then actual designs.

This tutorial taught me about the basics of setting up documents and how to create spreads on Indesign. I found this really useful as I’ve previously been unsure of how to do this and now I know how to in all future designs.

I also followed these tutorials to teach me to set up grids and margins to allow me to create columns of text and arrange my components in an organised design.

I found all of the tutorials I used super informative and easy to follow, and used everything I learnt in my work. The skills I learnt are very transformable and will be extremely useful in my future work as they cover the basics of document set up and grids- which I have learnt from my research are non-negotiable when designing in Indesign.


Design resources and articles

These were the main sources I took my inspiration from:

Figure 1: A magazine spread that inspired me (via:
Figure 2: Another magazine spread that inspired me (via: 
Figure 6: (via:












Studying these images taught me about the conventions of magazine spreads- for example columns of text, images within the grids and titles, as well as ways of subverting these conventions whilst still remaining to look like magazines- for example vertical titles and disordered layouts. Looking at this variety of styles of magazine design helped me to develop a range of my own ideas, using some conventions and subverting others.


Learning throughout the module

Throughout this module, I have noticed a significant improvement in my design skills across all 3 platforms. Whilst I began this project still very unsure of how to use Indesign and avoiding it all costs, I’ve ended it far more confident in my ability to create effective designs and being able to bring my visions to life. I’ve learnt how to use the table features and layout features (such as grids and columns), as well as becoming more confident in paragraph styles and developing my skills in specific parts like using drop caps, gradients and creating hierachy. Similarly, my knowledge and skills using Photoshop have advanced, learning how to remove parts of images using the clone stamp tool, edit colours in images using the hue/ saturation and using a range of filters and the negative mask shortcut (option + new mask) to smooth skin. Furthermore in Illustrator- which I was already fairly confident with to begin with- I learnt how to use the Variable Width Profile tool,  Offset Path and the shape builder tool to remove the area around the strokes which overlapped the letters, the ‘shear’ tool to manipulate shapes, the perspective grid tool and the pen tool.


Transforming websit article to Magazine Spreads


Final spread 1


Final spread 2


Magazine Spread 1

By starting off the design process of the first spread, I created a master grid system with six column that will be used within the two spreads. By setting the baseline grid, guide rules and guidelines for column and margins (see screenshot 1-3), it allow me to stick with these layout during the whole design process.

Before visualising the layout, I made use of rectangle frame tool (see screenshot 4) to orgainise the text and image , so it gain me an impression on how the final output will look like. With the typography, I have experiemented with text scale and colours to create hierarchy, leading readers to focus on the book title and image in the first piority by attracting them on the content. The title text was also in a large scale in order to create a striking effect. For the colour choices, I have chosen a simular colour palette with a combination of pink and black that have similar use in the website, which make the magazine more engaging and bright-looking (see screenshot 5 & Resources 2).


Screenshot 1: Baseline grid and guidelines


Screenshot 2: Baseline grid, Margins and Columns setup


Screenshot 3: Create layout master (rectangle frame tool, snap to guide)


Screenshot 4: Insert text and image


Screenshot 5: Adding shapes, line & colour


Magazine Spread 2

In the second spread, I adapt the same grid system to show an alternative way to layout the image and text. By seperating them into three columns (see screenshot 6-7), also experiment with text allignment such as centered text, It features each promoted book with a clear and readable description in a formal while attractive way.

I continued using different font size, as well as pink and black to create hierarchy among text. Pink rectangles are used to decorate and highlight the images of book (see screenshot 8).

At last, I futher adjust the typography by adding intent to group the text with better legibility , and end up as my final design (see Final spread 1-2) by switching pages between spreads of the second and fouth page as to prevent mountain of texts.

Screenshot 6: Alternative layout 


Screenshot 7: structuring last page 


Screenshot 8: designing spread 2

Software Tutorials

The software tutorials that I make use was mainly from Adobe website and Youtube. In previous project, I have some experiences using Indesign in struturing text by paragrapg style and master page, while lack of knowledge about structuring both image and text.

In the initial stage of struturing the text and image with layout grid, I watched Dansky and Stephen Kelman’s Youtube tutorials , which I learnt to use guidelines and rules with margin and columns setting to create a grid system and organise content properly. Stephen futher demonstrated about how to use the three column grid systems that I used to created for my magazine spread. In Adobe tutorial: Align content with guides, I then learn to use the snap to guide to easily making text allign with the grid system that I created. Another adobe tutorial about wrap text around objects, it helps me to create equal margins to seperate the image from text by using the text wrap tool.

Futhermore, The youtube streaming: Erik Kirtley streaming the design of magazine spreads was also useful on helping me with the baseline grids and guides that align the context properly. The streaming also shows tools to change colour of the image within Indesign, which I haven’t used this tool in my design but found it quite helpful in creating interesting visual effects within magazine spreads.


Resources for research and inspiration

By planning magazine layouts, I mainly found inspiration from Pinterest, which provide loads of layout ideas with their composition of text and images. Creative market website involve professional magazines designs spread, which I was inspired by one of an example (see Resources 1) that create an effective and simple layout using basic visual elements with colour and shapes. The original website (see Resources 2) for the design task also inspired me to make uses of a simular colour pallete of pink and black.

For articles that help me across, 10 Tips for Designing High-Impact Magazines shared few tips that inspired my magazine spreads, such as tips like ‘stick with few colours to make the magazine spread looks balanced and stylish.’ and ‘A single pop of color shouts the loudest’. Some of the most effective magazine designs used color very sparingly, proving a simple pop of bold color can be more striking than a palette of rainbow brights. It encourages me to experiment with the technique sticking with two to three colour and making a poping colour to the text.


Resources  1: Inspiration of magazine spread 


Resources 2: website: Rule Breakers: Ten novels that broke the mould

Learning across the module

From the quiz result, I can see tiny improvement in the knowledge of the software, which reflect I still have space to improve my software skills. I have lack of knowledge about exporting image and chosing to work on a right software in some case. However, I thought I have learnt quite lots of techniques and gain some experiences with the software across the module.

In Autumn term, I mainly focus on generating ideas through task include podcast cover, postcard and stickers. As I would like to practice using in Adobe indesign in the spring term, I have spent more time and was more confident in using  adobe indesign working on timetable and magazine spreads design.

To further develop my software skill in future, I will start from using photoshop, as to improve my photography editting skills in more professional.

Screenshot 9: Quiz result


Magazine layouts

Design ideas & process

I wanted to show two very different design layouts and chose a non-linear and a linear design. For one I wanted to use a lot of images with not a lot of space between the writing and for the other I wanted it to be very striped back in terms of visual design features.

Linear design
Non-linear, circular layout

For the very stripped back design approach I wanted to let the typography do most of the visual effect and only used one photograph. This was possible through the use of the text wrap panel. Wrapping the text around the image it could add extra visual to the spread and tie into the text so it doesn’t seem out of place or forced. To stop the image from taking over I used the direct selection tool to cut the image in half so only the right bottom triangle remained, thus allowing the text to wrap around the photograph in a diagonal line to bring it together.

Typographic design visual
Photograph prior to editing & text wrap

One of my design ideas was to create a circular layout, with the individual book covers surrounding the middle, creating a boarder for the circle. As it is a circular design the most important information goes to the centre, the core of the design. Individual book’s descriptions and information surrounds the title and introduction ,which the reader needs to make sense of what is going on – otherwise they may believe that it’s an ordinary list of books. Another reason for the book information going around the circle is to ensure it is clear that all the books are of equal weight in the hierarchy. There can be no mistaking one as more important than the another. To emphasise the purpose of the article I changed the colouring of the words ‘break the mould’ as that’s what it comes down to, these books aren’t the norm.

Original idea
Tinted background, prior to text wrap

Software tutorials

Building on the skills I learned from my previous experience with the Adobe InDesign software when we did the book exerts last term I used my notes to reiterate the principles we touched upon already. This helped me a lot in terms of setting up the hierarchy – especially with the non-linear design as it is an unusual spread for people to come across. Following the rule that something new catches people’s attention, but too many new and unusual things may end up confusing the reader in the end I drew from my experience of common and uncommon techniques. In order to get the spacing between the linear design right I used the guide lines. Similarly I ended up using the guide lines to centre the title and article introduction for the circular spread.

I did use the Adobe InDesign tutorial for Adding work with graphics to learn how to use the text wrap panel. This allowed me to further develop both my designs. Another good thing I learned from this tutorial is how to use the direct selection tool to alter the frame of an image in InDesign. I used this for the chosen photograph to become an integral part of my design to ensure I wouldn’t overwhelm my design with my chosen image. It allowed me to incorporate the photograph into the existing design, while keeping the balance of the layout. With the text wrap I managed to generate more space for the non-linear layout while also linking the individual covers to the corresponding information.

While it wouldn’t have worked for my designs, I do want to learn some more about how to wrap text around an object. Especially as the object doesn’t need to be removed from the image before being placed into InDesign. There’s so many possibilities I can explore with this. Moreover, in future, I would like to explore some more magazine layout styles, in particularly the call out features they use.

Resources for research & inspiration

One of my hobbies is Bullet Journaling (BuJo), so I create layouts a lot within my life to keep myself organised, jot down my ideas and thoughts and to relax. This meant that when this task was presented to me I already had a lot of different inspiration from creating my BuJo. As I wanted to do something that was non-linear I used a double spread layout I like to use on occasion as I felt it would suit the purpose. While I cannot recall who initially introduced me to this particular layout The Petite Planner uses a spread like this for her weekly spread to give you a better idea. Many others in the BuJo community use a similar layout for some of their spreads – the most popular ones I believe are to ones for tracking habits to improve them.

In terms of my other design idea I didn’t have a singular inspiration, I simply knew I wanted to create a large contrast between my two designs. I’m also rather fond of simply having text be the visual as I feel it is being often overlooked. Since I knew the other design would be quite heavy with images, colours and not have a lot of space I wanted this design to show the opposite (within reason of course). After having looked at some of my peer’s designs so far I developed a better understanding of what exactly I wanted my linear layout to look like.