With the grid set up and text formatting established, we’re now ready to complete the layout by bringing in the graphics. It’s often said that a picture is worth a thousand words and it’s true that without them it would be very difficult to catch and keep the reader’s attention. Even so there are limits, and I’m baffled by the urge to introduce lame-brained, badly-drawn clipart on the slightest pretext. If the image adds nothing, drop it. Fortunately that’s not a problem as we have a good range of photos and line art covering a wide range of subjects.
In terms of positioning and sizing the graphics a number of factors come into play. Obviously the pictures have to be positioned next to their relevant text, but it’s important to try and disperse them equally throughout the spread both horizontally and vertically. Image type – line art and photos – and image subject – people and buildings – should also be mixed to give as much contrast as possible. To achieve this it is often necessary to reorder the text. The size of each image is largely determined by the grid, with graphics either scaled to the full width of the column or, if text is going to flow around them, to half or a third of the column width. To get an immediate idea of the impact this will have, make sure that Text Wrap is on (Alt + Ctrl + E).
At the same time, the actual subject of the images must be taken into account. Don’t blow up a boring photo just to fill up space. On the other hand if you’ve got an intriguing photo, as we do for the cover, don’t waste it. Mug-shots of people’s faces might be commonplace, but they actually play an important role by humanising a layout. Even so they should only be used at relatively small sizes. Also think of any subliminal messages the graphics might be giving. If faces are looking out of design, for example, your readers might well follow suit.