Anatomía de la Retícula en el Diseño Editorial • Ilka Perea Studio

Anatomy of a Grid for Editorial Design

Editorial design is one of the branches of graphic design that deals with projects and publishing such as books, newspapers, portfolios, and magazines. Whether we are talking about a printed newspaper or a digital magazine, knowledge of the anatomy of a grid is required in editorial design.

The correct distribution of the elements within the grid will ensure a greater visual impact of the design  • Ilka Perea Studio
The correct distribution of the elements within the grid will ensure a greater visual impact of the design.

Good editorial design is coherent, clear, and pleasant to read. Above all, the goal of publishing design is to make publications attractive and easy to read. For this purpose, graphic designers rely on the grid.

The use of grids plays a very important role in the way information is designed, presented, and understood in an editorial publication. For instance, newspaper article design, magazine layout ideas, and book illustrations require special attention to the location, size, and combination of the information elements that make up the design.

Understanding the anatomy of the grid in editorial design makes it easier to know how and where to place information within a composition.

Grid applied to a fashion photography portfolio
A grid system is a set of guidelines that a graphic designer can use to align and size objects within the given format. Foto: Fotografía de Moda en CEFERE.

Grid Anatomy

Grid Elements
Understanding the parts of the grid allows you to identify the best location for each element.

What are the parts of a Grid?

Once the importance of using a grid have been established, the following points below describe the components of a grid :


Anatomy of a Grid for Editorial Design: format

The format is the complete area where the final design will be presented. For example, in the print design, the format can be a letter-sized page or a poster-sized page. On the other hand, in web design, the format is the browser window of a desktop computer or mobile device.


Anatomy of a Grid for Editorial Design: margins

Margins are the empty spaces between the edges of the format and the content. Consequently, the size of the margins is what gives the content a general shape, usually a rectangle.

First of all, set the margins. Establishing the size of the margins is the first step in building a grid. This will indicate the space available for work. However, this should not be confused with padding, which is the space within rows and columns.


Anatomy of a Grid for Editorial Design: columns

Columns are the vertical sections of a grid. A grid can have 1 column as well as 16 columns. The number of columns depends on the type of publication. In other words, more columns in the grid mean more flexibility.

Columns gain great relevance in the design of websites and in editorial publications such as newspapers and magazines.


Anatomy of a Grid for Editorial Design: rows

Rows are the horizontal sections of a grid. They help to separate the content horizontally.


Anatomy of a Grid for Editorial Design: modules

Modules are the building blocks of any grid. They are the spaces created by the intersection of flow lines and vertical lines. Vertical groups of modules together create columns. Horizontal groups create rows.


Anatomy of a Grid for Editorial Design: gutters

Columns and rows are divided by gutters. Imagine a city, the gutters would be the streets and avenues.

When the gutter is narrower, the more visual tension is created. On the other hand, grids with wider gutters produce soothing templates because the elements of the composition have less tension between them.

Spatial Zones

Anatomy of a Grid for Editorial Design: spatial zones

Spatial zones are groupings of columns, rows or modules that form a composition element.

Groups of adjacent modules in vertical and horizontal areas create spatial zones or regions. For instance, a vertical region may contain a text spot, a horizontal region may contain a photograph. Regions can be arranged proportionally or used to create overlapping zones.

Flow Lines

Anatomy of a Grid for Editorial Design: flow lines

Flow lines are horizontal lines that separate the different sections of a grid into parallel bands. They help the reader to follow the content of the design.

Flow lines also create stop points or edges for the elements to be placed. Some flow lines are called hanging lines and others are called baselines.


Anatomy of a Grid for Editorial Design: markers

A marker is an area in which one places the secondary content. They mark the exact place where the information to be repeated from one page to another is placed.

Books and magazines commonly use them for chapter titles, page numbering, headers, and footers, etc.


Sistemas de Retículas • Ilka Perea Studio
Books for Graphic Designers
  • Sistema de Retículas. Un manual para diseñadores gráficos. Josef Müller-Brockmann. Editorial Gustavo Gili. 2017.
  • Diseño y Comunicación Visual. Bruno Munari. Editorial Gustavo Gili. 2016.
  • ¿Qué es el diseño? Isabel Campi. Editorial Gustavo Gili. 2020.
  • Visual Language for Designers: Principles for Creating Graphics That People Understand. Connie Malamed. Rockport Publishers. 2009.
  • Fundamentos del Diseño Gráfico. Richard Poulin. Promopress. 2016.
  • Gramática Visual. Christian Leborg. Editorial Gustavo Gili. 2013.
  • Fundamentos del Diseno. Wucius Wong. Editorial Gustavo Gili. 1998.
  • Diseño gráfico: Nuevos fundamentos. Ellen Lupton. Editorial Gustavo Gili. 2016.
  • Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer: A Guide to Careers in Design.  Steven Heller y Veronique Vienne. 2015.
  • Diseño gráfico. Fundamentos y prácticas. Dabner David. BLUME. 2014.