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layout H OW T O B U I L D A PAG E

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mario garcia

Page architecture Architecture refers to how a designer uses the space available on the canvas of the page. It is defined by the numbers of columns used, the varieties available, and how text and photos blend on the page. When it comes to page architecture, the front page sets the “mood”, and gives the publication its distinctive personality. We all identify such newspapers as the Frankfurter Allgemaine, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal by their distinct vertical placement of elements. Recently, the Times sometimes deviates from the strict vertical layouts of yesteryear, with some front pages sporting multicolumn color photos, and the Wall Street Journal Europe and Asia have redesigned to do likewise. However, these classic newspapers remain quite vertical in their approach to news placement. Do readers sense that a vertical architecture lends a more “serious” aura to a page? This question has not been scientifically tested, but it is dear to editors and publishers. They’re all convinced that a serious newspaper is more vertical than horizontal. Ultimately, it is the tone of the headline, the content of the page, and the overall look and feel of a newspaper that determines how it is perceived, not how the columns are displayed.

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pure design

Let me add that excessive use of vertical columns leads to “tombstoningâ€? (clashing of headlines), and gray masses of type, and overall dullness. As for the more contemporary horizontal placement, it is easier for headline writers and allows the editor and designer better opportunities to create page hierarchy. For instance, one can lead with a four-column headline, and then move to a measurement of fewer columns. Instantly, the page gains balance and contrast. In the end, content is still king and should dictate how page architecture is utilized. 

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mario garcia

Designing with columns: Other than type, one constant element in newspapers and magazines is the column shape. Denmark’s Jyllands Posten shows how the movement of columns can inject magic and help complement and contrast other structures, such as photographs, illustrations and graphics. Sometimes the best “column� is the one that includes only white space. 78


pure design

Architecture and hierarchy: The international page of The Wall Street Journal was designed to accommodate tremendous amounts of different information. By distributing the material over the six-column space, with an anchoring spot for the world briefs on the left, we solved the problem and maintained a page that is attractive and easy to follow. 79

Pure design: Page architecture  

The twenty-third "fable" from Mario Garcia's "Pure design"

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