Calculating a grid for a layout can be time-consuming. It’s not only the calculation itself but planning and laying out the whole thing is a task that eventually will take some time. How many columns is relatively easy to decide on but deciding the margins, top and bottom may prove to be harder.

Spending time on making the perfect grid will save you time in the end, and most cases also make your design look better in a much easier way. However, trying to reduce the time spent on calculating the grid is worthwhile. People often feel so pressed to start the job that they don’t think there is time to do the math.


For some time I have collected various experiments and methods in Excel files. I always had in mind to share some of it with you. In the meantime The Grid Calculator, a standalone application has been introduced and The Grid Calculator InDesign plug-in is already in pre-release and will be released publicly soon. The calculations for the Document Grid units in these tools are based on the Bach Gärde method. That is; the Document Grid is based on the proportion of the page which is being worked with.

The Grid Calculator InDesign plug-in is, by the way, excellent because it not only calculates the grid but also sets the whole thing up in InDesign ready to go and ready to be saved for later use.

Another tool is Gridelicious, a web page calculator presented by Arlo Guthrie at Arlo Design. Gridelicious is inspired by The Grid Calculator using the proportional Document Grid, but it recently also added calculations for even square Document Grid. That is; the document grid is a square with even sides (less than 0.1% off). Access to Gridelicious is free.

Now I join the bandwagon. Easy Grid Calculator – Square Units and Easy Grid Calculator – Proportional Units are two calculators which allow you to make layout grids either as square units or proportional. It is not easy to make it look very different from Gridelicious but I am pretty sure Arlo will forgive me that. But there are also a few differences.

Easy Grid Calculator – Square Units and Easy Grid Calculator – Proportional Units have all of the major grid calculation features and some more. Correct leading calculation based on page size and original leading and Imageline calculation based on the height of the lower case f (Regular, not italic).

But it is also possible to play with the number of columns and rows and fiddle with the units in the Margin section to let everything fit and the measurements for the margins are calculated at the same time. I will explain everything in detail in a later article, but a seasoned grid user will most likely get this idea at once. The size of the text box is also a subject for that section or maybe a separate one. It’s a little and cool secret which I will let you in on very soon.

For now, it is probably best to take a screen shot of your finished calculations and paste into InDesign or Illustrator for reference. The Easy Grid Calculator is still in progress, and more features will be added later.

But here you have it: Easy Grid Calculator – Square Units and Easy Grid Calculator – Proportional Units


    • Thanks Arlo. Please ask if there is anything unclear. I am starting to write an article how to use this calculator and use it in InDesign.

      By the way, I used a plug-in for Excel (pc only) that converts Excel file to html with javascript and css. The web version looks exactly like my excel file and it even took the font along. Amazing stuff.

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  • Comments that did not make it over in the transit:

    Marius: Great job! Thank you very much
    I already plan a grid with your tool. I would suggest to explain a little bit more the “rows” area.

    My reply: Nice to hear.

    I have almost completed an article which leads through using the calculator plus some unexpected extras. The site will be moved over to a new server any day now and I am going to post it there. Hope you’ll keep in touch.
    Besides that the new version of this site will change its look over to a much more gridded one (Argentinian theme in fact). Can’t wait myself.

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