STORY OF THE PAGE: Every month of late, I do a blog post called The Present Participle List for (insert the month here). Every time I post one I think, “I should turn this into a layout.” But then I don’t. Until today. (Well, actually last week if we’re going to be technical, but I digress…)
I created a very simple template to start plugging some of these lists into a more scrapbook-y format. I love this concept of documentation. Make a list of verbs. Flesh them out with a sentence or two. Document the present. Just like that.
The balance of this layout is essentially asymmetrical. You have a narrow column of photos paired with a journal block that is not quite two times wider. Rather than having a suggested line right down the middle, this page balance is shifted a bit off center, even though the content itself fills the space with an equal margin from side to side, and from top to bottom. This more even framing space around the core content actually lends a slightly symmetrical feel to the design, but the core is asymmetrical.
We have lovely repetition. The photo sizes and the black and white repeats. The mustard color from the patterned paper and plastic star shape, plus we have the two little enamel dots repeating. In fact, I think this is my favorite little touch.
Do you ever have moments when you’re making a page that feels like a bonafide mic drop moment? Repeating the little dots and using one to dot the letter ‘i’ in the word right? That was mine. Again, what does repetition serve? It adds to the unity of the design. It gives the eye little dots to connect. Here, enamel dots, literally.
There is a great quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery about simplicity in design. It reads: “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” I’m not saying this is perfection in design, but sometimes it does take some thought to figure out what is needed and what can be left out. But that could be said of a great many things in life, no?
Another design convention is the generous use of leading and paragraph spacing*. Leading is the space between lines and it really does make or break the readability of any block of text. On this page, the type size is 10 points and the leading is set to 16.6 points. When you first start typing out of the gate in most programs, Word included, your leading is set to Auto, sometimes this is also called being set solid. The standard solid leading formula is to have your leading 2 points bigger than your type size. This is fine for things like books and magazines, but usually, a few more points of leading, even just one or two, can make a dramatic difference in readability.
Another thing that helps? If you have a big chunk of journaling like I do here, make sure that the line widths are not overbearing. My journal block is just over three inches wide. When line lengths get too wide, they are harder for our eyes to track and read. And the last tip for your journaling? Align it left with a ragged right edge. This, too, makes for easier reading than if you try to force justify your text to fit the text box.
Whew! Get me talking about typesetting and I could go one all day!
*Paragraph spacing is the way I like to offset little paragraphs of writing, rather than include a full return space. Both Photoshop and Word allow you to customize this type of spacing. Photoshop Elements does not, at least I haven’t figured out how to do it yet. That said, when I design my templates and include paragraph spacing, it usually preserves that setting, even while working in Photoshop Elements.
Just for fun, here’s a little tutorial on using leading and yes, I’ve included how to do this in Word as I’ve had a few requests to do so. Enjoy!
Questions? Comments? By all means, fire away.