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ISO and paper sizes

Standard paper sizes provide a means for designers, printers

and others involved in the printing and publishing industries
to communicate product specifications and control costs.

The ISO (International Standardization Organization) paper sizing system is based on

a height-to-width ration of the square root of two (1:1.4142). Paper with this proportion
will maintain its aspect ration when cut in half.

The ISO A series features a range of paper sizes that differ from the next size by
a factor of either 2 or 0.5. B series are intermediate sizes and C series sizes are for
envelopes that can contain A series stationery.

The rounded metric value of the A0 sheet simplifies the calculation

A8 A8
of the weight of a document (format x number of pages x g/m2 of
A7 the sheet). All other paper sizes can be produced from the A0 sheet
A4 by making successive cuts of the widest length, as shown in the
illustration and the table below.

A2 Format mm
A0 841 x 1189
A1 594 x 841
A3 A2 420 x 594
A3 297 x 420
A4 210 x 297
A5 148 x 210
A0 A6 105 x 148
A7 74 x 105
A8 52 x 74
A9 37 x 52
A10 26 x 37

The need for grids
A grid provides a structure for all the design elements of
a page, which eases and simplifies both the creative and
decision-making process for the designer.

Using a grid allows for greater accuracy and consistency in the placement of page
elements, providing a framework for a high degree of creativity. Grids allow a designer
to make informed decisions and to use their time efficiently. They can be used to add
a high degree of dynamism to a design the positioning of what may seem a rath-
er small irrelevant element, such as a folio, can create a dramatic impact on a page,
which pulses through a printed work.

Although many of us now view content in an electronic format or via the Web, the
structural principles behind the designing of a printed page still apply since the way
we read a page and how we extract information from it remains the same.
Organizing information
The basic function of a grid is to organise the information on
a plage. The way this is achieved has been developed and re-
fined throughout history from simple pages of text, to the
incorporation of images and to diverse possibilities provided
by modern design software.

A logical, organised and visual guide for text that indicates different levels of importance.

A thick, thin or thin-thick combination of lines used to separate different elements.
How we read a page
Any given page will feature active and passive areas due
to the nature of the content and the way an individual
views a page how the eye naturally scans a page to
locate information.


A designer has a great deal of freedom in placing different design elements within a
layout. However, the way in which the human eye scans an image or a body of text
means that certain areas of a page or hotter or more active than others. This means
that central and peripheral areas exist within a page. Designers can use this knowledge
to direct the placement of key design elements either making them more prominent
or less noticeable.

When faced with a new page of information, the human eye habitually
looks for an entrance at the top left and scans down and across to
the bottom right corner, as shown in the illustration. The depth of the
colours indicates where the strongest focus of attention is.
Anatomy of a page
A page is made of several distinct parts and each section has
a significant purpose and function in the overall design.


The outer margin that helps The margin area that occurs Spaces created within a The basic structure used
frame the presentation of text in the fold between two pages grid for the placement to guide the placement of
within a design of a spread. Also the space of pictorial elements. text and other elements
between two text columns. within a design.

Spaces for the organised The margin that is closest The margin found at the The space separating two
presentation of body text to the spine or centre bottom of the page. columns, which is also
that help to make it fold, which is also called called a gutter.
readable. This layout a gutter.
features six text columns
over the two-page spread.
There are two types of measurements used in graphic design:
absolute and relative measurements.

The grid itself is typically constructed with absolute measurements such as inches or
points, while many of the items that are placed within it may use relative measurements,
meaning that their size and position are determined in relation to the grid.

Type is usually determined in points, which is an absolute measurements give a fixed
value for determined lengths, it means that both type and the baseline grid it sits upon
have a spatial compatibility. It is possible to work with type in points and the baseline in
milimetres, but it is easier if both elements share the same measurement system.

Digital images are normally placed into a design as a percentage relative to their full size,
or resized to fit a specific space. However, in order to reproduce well in print, an image
needs to have a resolution of at least 300ppi or 72ppi for on-screen usage.

When working with grids, it is possible to use coordinates taken from a starting point, such as the top left-hand corner
in this example. The magenta lines represent a baseline grid that is set at 12pt intervals, with the first line and column
representing coordinates (1,1). The image fields are a relative measurement of 14 lines of the baseline grid, which at
12pts apart gives 168pt square image units (14 x 12). Intercolumn spaces or gutters are set at 12pts, with fore and outer
margins set at 24pts, and the head margin at 36pts.