Top design tips: Avoiding the 7 cardinal sins of page layout

Everyone has their own favoured way of putting together an engaging layout, but we can all sometimes be guilty of breaking even our own house rules. So here are the top ‘7 sins’ we’d avoid when laying out a page in QuarkXPress or InDesign.

Sin #1: Not thinking of the reader. By far the most important rule is to always design a page with the reader in mind. If you create a design masterpiece that no one can read, or wants to read, then there’s no point.

Sin #2: Not respecting hierarchy. Another absolutely essential thing to bear in mind is the visual hierarchy of the page. Remember what message you’re trying to get across, and make sure you lay out and format the content so the most important information is given the necessary weight.

Sin #3: Going against the grid. Grids are your friends. Use them to create clean page layouts easily, and use baseline grids for type too. They may take a bit of getting used to, but the results are worth it.

Sin #4: Getting tangled in typography. Gah, we could rant on about typography mistakes for days. There are the obvious ones like font colour and legibility, but watch out for our main spacing bugbears – widows (single lines that spill over on to new paragraphs), orphans (single words at the end of a paragraph) and rivers (long gaps that run through word spacing).

Sin #5: Not being design-efficient. If you’re working on a project that has the same elements on each page, then use master pages to automatically create new iterations of the same page, auto page numbering and other automatic markers, and styles for paragraphs, characters and objects. These will all save loads of time, especially if there are global changes further down the line, and generally help make your overall design workflow more efficient.

Sin #6: Not using layers. Don’t complicate things for yourself – use layers to construct your pages, keeping images and type on separate layers. Having these elements on separate layers will massively ease how you use the page.

Sin #7: Being uninspired. Even the most creative minds should always be on the look out for inspiration, be it in magazines, books, posters or anywhere else. Here are a few great places to refer to for a bit of a design spark:

’60 Beautifully Modern and Inspirational Magazine/Book Layouts’, via

’20 Inspiring Magazine Layout Designs to Check Out’, via

‘Brochure Design: 50+ Brilliant Layouts’, via

’30 Stylish Examples of Layouts in Magazine Design’, via Jayce-O-Yesta

If you’d like to know more about our design workflow and the hardware and software we would recommend, head over to the Jigsaw24 DesignHub, give us a call on 03332 409 306 or email For all the latest news, follow @WeAreJigsaw24 on Twitter or ‘Like’ us on Facebook.


Paul S
Paul S
Call us: 03332 409 306

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