An Approach to Book Page-Spread Design

Editing by Design

Early in my publications management history (in my second job designing and copyediting print books for a government education non-profit foundation), I discovered a design-education print book by Jan White entitled Editing by Design. I would encourage you to buy this book. It was a watershed moment in my professional life back in the early ‘80s when I found my first copy.

Editing by Design has no photos. All artwork consists of hand-drawn thumbnail layouts of book pages. These actually become supremely interesting if you’re trying to learn page layout for book printing, because Jan White gives you a handful of rules, which you can learn and then break as you become more fluent in the discipline. But no other print book I’ve found is as good a primer on the subject.

Contrast: An Element of Design

Since the book is an inch thick I have decided to randomly select a few rules to highlight in this article, perhaps as a teaser so you’ll buy the print book.

One of the tools of both publications page design and fine art drawing/painting/sculpture is contrast. Things look big because they are placed next to things that are small. Things look more important in contrast with things that are either less interesting or totally consistent in appearance.