Field Notes: Space

For this exercise, I’ve chosen two books to look at, both of which are relevant to my own book project in content, audience, and/or style. The first book is SHE: muses, visionaries and madcap heroines, a coffee table book (with both text and images) by Kate Spade New York. The book is 240 pages and its dimensions are oversized: 12″h x 10″w x 1.2″d. This size  works because the book includes great written content, but the photos are extremely powerful, so the large size places emphasis on the beautiful visual aspects. Because the purpose is a coffee table book, the format lends itself to casual flip-throughs.

The grid and layout vary throughout the book, which works well because it keeps the book interesting to a reader who may be just flipping through a few pages, rather than reading it intently in order. Many photos bleed off the page and take up an entire page or spread; others are aligned in the center, and others are aligned left or right. The text is centered on some pages, and aligned left or right on others. Often there is one photo per page, but there are many pages without photos that rely on the design of the text. These pages without photos still work nicely because the emphasis lands on important words that are made visually appealing through typeface, size, and white space. On some pages, there are multiple photos on varying grids. Again, all of this variety is nice because the book is long, and too many pages with the same layouts would be mundane. White space is used often in this book, which works well because it gives the book a clean look for simple viewing on a coffee table. Without the white space, too much information on one page would seem cluttered.

All of these page layouts show the variety in grid, bleed, photo use, and text use.

Text-only page with centered text made visually appealing with white space

Text and photo with aligned-left text

Full-bleed photo page with one sentence of text


The second book I am looking at is The Teen Vogue Handbook: An Insider’s Guide to Careers in Fashion, which is 288 pages and 7.2 x 0.8 x 9.2 inches. Because this book is more text-heavy, its smaller size allows someone to pick it up and read the entire thing, while carrying it around easily. This works for the younger audience (grades 7-12), who would likely bring this book around to read in school or in their bedrooms. With this book, the grids and layout also vary. Some photos bleed off the page, some quotes make up an entire page, and some pages are text-heavy with full Q&As. I think this works well in creating variety, but I think more white space could be used, as some pages appear too cluttered. In this book, there are often many photos per “story” (section), which can also sometimes be too busy and not as streamlined as it could be.

The balance of one large photo and two columns of text with larger display text works well.

The amount of photos and the off-center skewing of photos and text boxes makes this spread look too busy.