Quick question re: spacing

SCOTT M. BRINGS PLENTY asks for some help with spacing between packages.
Hello Ed, I have a question I’d like to pose to you and your readership: How much space should be left between packages on a page?
Right now, I realize I probably do it pretty old school as we have a gutter width of 0.167″ so that is the space that is generally left between packages as well.  I’ve noticed some papers use that grid and others use a lot more space.
I’m really starting to like the extra space.
What would everyone recommend on spacing?  And, not just this question…but, how much space between headline and body…photo and cutline?
This probably all seems very elementary, but it really would be helpful to have other ideas.


1. On fronts and open pages (sports, opinion, features and such), I usually allow three picas between packages. And I dissect that space with a .5 point solid rule.

2. On inside pages, where I have to deal with ads, I allow two picas between packages.

3. Here’s a hint: measure and think in picas and points. That’s a system developed centuries ago to work with type—and it still works today. On newspaper pages, 1/4 inch space is too wide…1/8 inch is too narrow. The measure that’s right between them, 1/6 inch, works just right. And 1/6 inch is equal too…a pica.

What are your thoughts on spacing? Let’s share those with Scott!

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One response to “Quick question re: spacing

  1. The first units of measure I used were picas and points as a kid back in days of hot type. Setting headlines from a California job case in a stick, you had to know type size (points), horizontal spacing (picas and points), and the difference between an em space and an en space. We used “leads” and “thins” for added vertical spacing and these were measured in points. And learning to read right to left and upside down (I can still do that) made life much easier!

    I have a 1 pica gutter on my ad pages, so I am stuck with 1 pica between packages when there are staggered ad heights. I use a 1.5 pica (18 pt) gutter on my feature pages as a starting point. If I have two packages side-by-side (very rare) I’ll leave 3 picas between. On centerfolds all bets are off. I use lots of indenting and try to build in white space wherever possible.

    I use a baseline grid for vertical spacing. My body is set 10 on 11, so my grid is 5.5 pts. This lets me fine-tune my vertical spacing and keeps me from being locked into 11 pts of lead. I always balance my columns and make sure my body legs are balanced. I rarely lock to baseline – it’s too confining and for me, using Quark, it creates other problems. I like InDesign’s feature of a document grid and a text box grid – very flexible.

    Captions are 9 on 10, so I use photo cropping and the space at the bottom of the caption to push/pull the story legs to balance. I am considering going to 10 on 11 for caps to match the body.

    I use 4 pts of spacing between picture and caption and put the caption credit at the end of the cap – that keeps the spacing between the photo and caption closer. On feature packages I will use more spacing between photo and caption and often center the captions under the photos for a more informal look.

    Baseline of headline to baseline of first line of story is roughly 22 pts or 2 lines of space. That varies with the size of the headline.

    No matter what you do, consistency is the key. Create a look and stick with it for a while to see how it weathers, then slowly tweak as you go along.

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