Combined Landscape and Portrait Design

Since 2001, Global Systems Science (GSS) books have been designed for easy reading both on paper and on computer display. There was a short time period when the design of a page was strictly landscape (11x8.5"). The binding for unreduced hardcopy would be along left hand short side. That is very unusual in print, but very practical and conducive to aesthetic layouts on computer monitors.  Then there was a high percentage of potential users who primarily relied on paper printout, even though there was a growing awareness of the difference ecological effects between reading material on screen or on paper.

Between 2005 and 2010, the GSS books were distributed only as PDF files.  Those and the paper/PDF versions of 2001-2005, used some simple principles of page design that we called "Combined Online and Hardcopy Design" (COHD).  This expression is replaced by Combined Landscape and Portrait Design (CLPD). Since the advent of smart phones, there is less debate about whether to design for landscape (11x8.5") or portrait (8.5x11"). There are excellent examples of landscape-optimized designs.  For designers optimizing for portrait layout, which is viewed well on paper as well as smartphones and tablets held in portrait orientation,  the following simple principles of CLPD can apply:


Desirable Layouts

Page layouts optimized for both hard copy and online reading
These examples assume that a person viewing the document on a computer will likely take advantage of a magnification feature to display 1/2 page at a time (150% or so). This results in print size that "larger-than-life" and very easy to read. In that mode, some 2-column formats can be very cumbersome to the reader who is forced to alternately scroll up and down to go from column to column. That can be very irritating.

In the text-block/graphic arrangements shown here as "Desirable Layouts", the reader will never have to scroll up to read from the bottom of the first column to the top of the second column. They can keep scrolling down continually.


Page layouts that only work well in hard copy
Undesirable layouts:

The "Undesirable Layouts" shown here would force the reader into the undesirable and irritating up/down scrolling when reading from column to column. They should be avoided. 

A mix of single-column and 2-column layouts can be quite effective, but for text blocks, consider keeping the column width less than full page to avoid harder very long lines of text that are harder to read. For  3-column layouts (appropriate for smaller font sizes in hard copy), one can apply a similar principle of CLPD (imagining the reader viewing only 1/2 page at a time—top then bottom). Each half page should be a readable "page unit" unto itself.

A more aggressive strategy to meld optimization for both horizontal and landscape orientations is be to have top and bottom halves of a portrait orientation separated by a white gap or a bold dividing line (as represented by the green line in the "Desirable layouts"). 

In 2010 the GSS books were converted, chapter by chapter, to web pages. To facilitate printing modules on paper, there is a  "print-friendly" button at the beginning of each chapter. This can be a help for teachers putting together customized curricula where only certain chapters are needed.  Caution: printing on paper with the print-friendly button can result in breaking of images (or tables) across pages that is far from ideal.  Assuming that e-documents are more environmentally friendly than paper documents, the real aim of current GSS staff is to optimize reading on electronic devices.