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Layout Essentials

Layout Essentials and Copywriting

Good copywriting is when your words are smart. Good layout is when your words are smartly dressed. Quantico Copywriting Singapore's copywriters and graphic designers know this truth and will collaborate for hours on end sometimes, to get that perfect balance between great words and great presentation. There are no secrets but there are strategies to getting the harmony between great copywriting and great design perfect.

The Grid System

A blank page can be intimidating for anyone. How far down does a copywriter insert the first sentence? Where does a graphic designer first put a pen to paper. And where should the target audience begin reading from? Enter the grid.

Every surface can be divided into a grid. A selection of columns and rows intersecting across the surface creates neat boxes called modules. Each module is a container that holds information. The organization of these modules across the surface provides a system of reading for the copy to flow. Depending on language and design requirements, the modules are accordingly arranged to facilitate smooth reading and comprehension.

Modules are the result of intersecting rows and columns. Drawing vertical and horizontal lines across a page creates modules. The shape of a module depends on where the lines are drawn, spacing between lines, and the angles they form. The possibilities are unlimited but the standard two and three column grids (in newspapers and magazines) are generally favored owing to the ease of reading they provide. Quantico copywriters in Singapore and Jakarta are often asked to make the two column grid work in collaterals with small dimensions.

Margins are the spacing between modules. Modules without margins are adjacent to each other, providing an intimate, sometimes compressed feeling, depending on what the copywriter and designer want to achieve. Examples of such layout are text books, novels, and one-page brochures that are usually devoid of graphics. Modules with margins around them are individual floating boxes containing text or graphics that stand alone. These modules allow for more individual styling and are generally found in university prospecti, catalogs, and websites where specific bits of information are required to stand out and make a point.

Most collateral is a combination of these two modular layouts. A designer has to decide on the most important bits of information and lay each bit out in the best possible module combination. The sheer number of combinations and input from individuals makes the task both exciting and daunting. Quantico copywriters in Singapore often have to collaborate with the design team in Malaysia to ensure that the final product for the Kuala Lumpur audience meets the culture's reading expectations and delivers a strong, desirable graphic experience.

Verso and Recto

Verso and recto are common terms in copywriting and design. When a book is open, the page to the left of the center line is the verso spread. The page to the right of the center line is the recto spread. In reading conventions, the human eye usually enters a spread from verso top left, and exits from recto bottom right. Simply having this knowledge can greatly augment layout. The copywriting and design teams work together to optimize this rule to create an engaging reading experience. If the rule is known it can be manipulated to create some extremely attention-grabbing spreads.

Quantico copywriters and designers in Singapore and in other countries debate often on the topic of verso and recto, analyzing the nuances that affect reading patterns in different countries and cultures. Ultimately the placement of important bits of copy must follow the natural reading pattern of the particular culture the collateral is being prepared for. In LTR (left-to-right) reading languages like English, Malay, Tamil, Korean, and Mandarin, the standard verso-recto relationship rules apply and affect the outcome of perception. In RTL (right-to-left) reading languages like Arabic, Persian, Yiddish, Urdu, and Hebrew the recto-verso relationship is critical to comprehension. Languages that are read from top to bottom also follow the standard verso-recto relationship since the eye still enters from the top left and exits at the bottom right. Copywriters are aware of these relationships and work with designers to ensure maximum comprehension and clarity throughout the piece.

Characters Per Line

When it comes to reading, the longer the line the more tired the eyes become. A line length is defined by the number of characters in that line. The quest is always to find the perfect number of characters that aids reading. This is a hotly debated topic with the results varying between experts. From experience and research Quantico's copywriters and designers have found the magic number of characters per line: 55. A line in a paragraph should not exceed 55 characters otherwise the piece becomes tedious to read. The same piece of copy presented in 55 characters is more refreshing and engaging than the same piece produced in a line with 80 or more characters. The challenge is to layout the copy in lines not exceeding 55 characters while preserving the integrity of the message.

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