Grids establish a system for arranging content. They don’t impede creativity, but rather provide a framework in which creativity can happen.
Here’s how to go about making one:
Decide on your page proportion. Sometimes this will be dictated to you, other times you’ll have a choice. Much like choosing type, there are historical and visual cues wrapped up in various proportions — for instance Renaissance typographers preferred a narrower page. For the Wikipedia project, our page size is 5.5 x 8.5”.
Create a New Document in InDesign. In the window, select number of pages (12), page size (Letter — Half), orientation (vertical), and reset the margins to 0 on all sides.
In the Pages palette, double click the Master Pages to bring them up in the main window. This is where you will build your grid as a spread.
Choose a proportion for your textblock. There are endless options, but if you need help getting started, there are some standard proportions. For example: 1:1.618 (Golden Section) or 1:1.414 (ISO). Continuous reading should employ a text block that is taller than wide, whereas short bursts can be square or horizontal. Drag a text box, and set its size to match your choice.
Position the textblock on the page so that it balances and contrasts with the shape of the overall page. Remember to account for margins, the spine, page navigation (folios), and so on. In general, the textblock is positioned closer to the center of the page than the outside margin.
Set the margins of your page, and add columns to your textblock. Select Layout > Margins & Columns, position the margins so that they define your textblock, and select the number of columns and gutter width. Generally, you’ll want a number that divides evenly into a variety of smaller numbers, such as 12 (6, 4, 3, 2).
Fill your text block with placeholder text by selecting Type > Fill with Placeholder Text. Style the text using a Paragraph Style to match your desired body copy (Hint: 12 pt leading will divide evenly into whole and half inch dimensions). Body copy is usually between 8 and 12 pt for a standard size book.
Create a Baseline Grid. Go to InDesign > Preferences > Grids and set up the Baseline Grid to start relative to your Top Margin and Increment the same amount as your Leading. Then select View > Grids & Guides > Baseline Grid.
Count the number of lines in your grid and find the number of groups and lines per group that will fill the textblock with one line in between each. For example: 5 groups of 8 lines would have 4 spaces for a total of 44 lines.
Select View > Show Rulers, and drag guides down from the rulers to build your grid on the Master Pages. It should then be set up on the rest of the pages in your document.