Setting up a 4-Column Grid

Learning to set up a basic multi-column grid in InDesign is an essential component of publication design. It takes an understanding of typographic measurement and how you want your reader to interact with the written content.

As a simple way to practice, I have outlined the basic steps that you will need to set up a grid (and page size) so that you can get straight to work on your publication.

Here is a simple format for practice:

  • Page size: 210 mm (width) x 148.5 mm (height)
  • Column: 4 columns
  • Margins:  21 mm top side. 14 mm on left, right, and bottom sides.
  • Gutter: 6 mm
  • Binding: left to right
  • Pages: 12 pages (6 spreads) at least. You are free to add more pages, but it would need to be added in terms of 4 pages.

Your final spread (made up of two pages) should look like this if you have followed the measurements above correctly.

By default, InDesign will always create a “cover” page for you to use in your design. Save this for you book cover and the last page will be for the back cover of the book.

Have fun and don’t let the grid hinder your creativity. Remember, it should be used as a guide to create consistency amongst the pages, but there is a LOT of flexibility within the four columns you have chosen.

While you’re at it, consider the following while you work:

  • What experience do you want to create for your readers as they flip through your pages?
  • How do the words: pause, speed, and repetition apply to the design of your portion of the publication?
  • What stories do you want to catch the readers eye?
  • How can the placement of your collages enhance the meaning of the short story/stories?
  • Remember to print out different options and evaluate often!