Desktop Publishing

Columns

If you're working on a newsletter or magazine, you will need to break the text into columns, but how many should you use?

If you use a two-column grid, the type size and graphics will be larger, which is okay for short newsletters with long articles and few graphics. The symmetry of the two-column format works well for conservative publications such as stock holder reports.

The typical newsletter or magazine is laid out using the three-column grid. This format is both flexible and simple.

Four and five column grids give you more design options, making it easy to create a unique look for every page, but the flexibility makes it harder to balance the appearance of your publication as a whole.

For instance, since the columns will be narrower, the type size will have to smaller, which could affect readability if handled poorly. Four to five columns of straight text would make reading a chore, but these grids make the layout of other elements such as photos, subheads, and pull-quotes, easier.

In the following example, we used a four column grid, but only three columns have text because we placed a headline in the first column.

Example of Columns from the 1997 Freestone

The three-column grid is often the safest choice for novices, and with planning, you can create page-to-page variety. For instance, you could turn one of the columns into a sidebar, use it for a pull-quote, or simply leave it blank.

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Introduction