Making Grids with Sigurður Ármannsson’s Easy Grid Calculator

Sigurður Ármannsson explains how to use his Easy Grid Calculator to produce square document grid units based on leading.

Via I Love Typography

Posted by on December 6, 2010
Filed Under Graphic Design, Typography | 5 Comments

  • James

    Brilliant. This is exactly what I was looking for today after trying (and failing) to understand the easy (?!) grid calculator.

    Now everything becomes clear…

    A question:
    When designing a uniform grid system for use over more than one size of document (DL, A5, A4, etc…) how do people generally begin? With the largest possible size and scale down or small and scaled up? I’d be really interested to hear peoples comments and see some examples if possible.

  • Theo Rosendorf

    Hi James,

    A holistic approach is to base your grid on the page and the body type so the ideally sized body type is presented with ideal leading. The grid can be created from the baselines or the baselines from the grid. What’s most important is ending up with an ideal setting for the text (good size, leading, line length, etc).

    If your two page sizes require different type sizes, you can also take the mechanics further and create a Fibonacci sequence for the type sizes. But this will sometimes make it look like you designed with a calculator (not the best look).

    Are these two pages integrated (book w/ tipped in sheet) or completely separate (book + poster)?

    If integrated: I’d base the two grids on page size with the book getting precedence. I’d also base the tipped in sheet on the book pages and its grid.

    If separate: I’d design each grid individually based on their own needs.

    How’s that for a roundabout answer..?


  • Sigurður Ármannsson

    Thanks Theo for this link to my calculator.

    When planning a document with different type sizes and leading it can be really helpful to use a smaller grid. Let’s say your main body copy has a 12 pt leading. If you use 6 pt as the baseline grid in InDesign, the body copy will snap to every other line. Or if you prefer to make it even finer you could use a 4 pt baseline and the 12 pt leading will snap to every third line.
    The less the difference between the leading used, the finer the grid has to be.

    Let’s say we use a 4 pt baseline. All other leading in the document should then be multiples of 4 and easy to put that into InDesign. This gives you more flexibility and you will still keep a vertical rhythm.

    My favorite source to point to about this is a pdf by Keith Chi-hang Tam:

  • James

    Thanks Theo, this is more or less the same conclusion I arrived at through trial and error and following the directions for the easy grid calculator.

    My current task is to create a set of InDesign templates for a very large medical organisation in the Middle East. These templates include, amongst others, DL flyers and pamphlets, A5/A4 booklets, A4/A3/A2/A0 posters, etc. I was looking to create a series of modular grids which requires the minimum understanding of grids as an overall concept, yet still affords a very clear brand hierarchy across the set.

    Today was a real milestone and, as you’ve suggested above, I’ve managed to create a very flexible layout based on grids of 4 lines of 12pt leading with 12pt gutters.

    In regards to your type size comment, I’ve divided my baseline by three (roughly 4pt lines) to allow for a slightly more flexible set of paragraph styles. This is all the more necessary due to the grids being required to work with Latin and Arabic scripts.

    Once I’m a bit further on I’ll post some results on my blog since I’m probably not the only person in the world with this query.

    Thanks for your reply and thanks for taking the time to create TDR, its one of the three books permanently on my desk.


  • Theo Rosendorf

    James, sounds like you now have a plan. And thanks for the kind words about the TDR.

    Sigurður, thanks for chiming in and the tip on the PDF.

    Also a practical book on grids and baselines is John Kane’s “A Type Primer”