#31 Searching for the Perfect Page

Jan Tschihold

Jan Tschichold (1902–1974) is a person of interest in the world of graphic design. He worked hard perfecting – or searching for perfection – in various project. One of my favorites was his creation of the Sabon type family in 1964.

Sabon font family includes 6 weights plus italics and Small Caps and Old style.

Tschichold was a typographer, book designer, teacher and writer.

ONE OF THE THINGS I found fascinating about him was his research of ancient books to find how to divide a page in pleasing proportions. He studied the page layout of ancient monks and Gutenberg’s 9×9 layout and eventually demonstrated the geometry and published about his findings.

Gutenberg’s 9×9 layout
Tschichold perfect book.

I then did an experiment to see what the “grid” would be for 8.5 x 11 inch pages. The dimensions are shown below.

My Americanized version.

Stretchy fluid web page with “perfect” percentages.

So, you may ask, “What good is this esoteric information for what I’m designing?”

If you are attempting to create a historical theme with a “feeling” of being “old, ancient, or spiritual,” – perhaps even wise – this is a good format. It’s great for storybooks and fairy tales. It may be appropriate for a thematic brochure. The idea is the page layout alone creates a subconscious “reminder” of days gone by. In reality, it’s not “perfect” for every application. But trying it out on your page dimensions can give you new perspective.

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲