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Portfolio Guide

Books on Layout

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layout intro

"Layout concerns the placement of the text and image elements within a design. How these elements are positioned, both in relation to one another and within the overall design scheme, will affect how the content is viewed and received by the readers, as well as their emotional reaction towards it. Layout can help or hinder the receipt of the information presented in a work. Similarly creative layouts can add value and embellishments to a piece, whereas understated layout can allow the content to shine through" (Abrose, 2005, p.6).


It is very important to identify your content before beginning to design pages. Only after you have decided on portfolio content, general format, page size, and enclosing system can you tackle the visual matter of developing the layout--that is, designing the pages, creating a base grid, choosing typefaces, sizing the images, and determining the placement of all elements on the pages and spreads.

As you start to plan your spreads, bear in mind that creating layouts that feature more than one form of visual material--models, sketches, plans, and other projections--can often assist reviewers to understand and appreciate the project in depth

Want to look at some amazing books with great layout? Look no further than the NewSchool Library!

Basics in Graphic Design

Remember, your portfolio should follow all of the basic graphic design standards. Here are some resources to walk you through graphic design concepts including using images, color, and white space in your portfolio.

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The Grid

Begin by developing a grid, the underlying structure of the pages, which helps you to size and position the images to create a coherent design. The grid is the graphic expression of a set of assumptions about the permissible sizes and shapes of images and blocks of text. It enables you to achieve and sustain design consistency throughout the portfolio.

Grids enable you to create a visual hierarchy and manage negatives space. It helps you manage the breathing room your designs need to stand out.

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Your prime consideration for text should always be legibility. Text needs to be readable and perfectly clear. Don't allow it to compete with or obscure images; it should always work with them to explain and enhance them. Keep text clearly separate from images by spacing and/or maintaining a strong contrast between values of the images and values of the text blocks.

Familiarize yourself with type, it's legibility and emotional impact, by studying the typefaces used in books and magazines and on the web. Remember less is more--don't use more the three different fonts in any portfolio. Additionally, make sure all of the fonts are very different looking to create contrast.

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Ambrose / Harris. (2005). Basics Design 02: Layout. London: AVA Academia.

Linton, H. (2012). Portfolio Design 4th ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

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