Understanding  Gutter

If you're a graphic designer, layout design is an important part of your job. One crucial element that often gets overlooked is the gutter. A gutter is the space between columns in a layout, and it plays a crucial role in creating readability and flow in print design. Here are some common questions people have about gutters:

What is the purpose of a gutter?

The gutter is the space between columns in a layout, and it exists to create separation between groups of text. Without gutters, text can seem cramped and difficult to read. By providing white space between columns, the gutter makes it easier for readers to distinguish one section or topic from another.

How wide should a gutter be?

The width of a gutter depends on several factors: the size of your page, the size of your columns, and the thickness of your paper. A general rule of thumb is that gutters should be at least as wide as your margins. If your margins are 1 inch wide, for example, your gutters should be at least 1 inch wide as well.

How do I know if my gutters are too narrow?

If you notice that people are having difficulty reading your print materials or navigating through them, it may be because your gutters are too narrow. Look for signs like text that runs too close to images or other text, or sections that blend together visually.

Can I use different gutter widths on different pages?

Absolutely! Different pages may have different needs when it comes to spacing and flow. For example, you might want wider gutters on pages with large images or tables than on pages with mostly text.

What's the difference between an inside gutter and an outside gutter?

An inside gutter refers to the space between two columns on adjacent pages (i.e., where they meet in the middle). An outside gutter refers to the space between a column and the edge of a page (i.e., where it meets the binding). Both types of gutters are important for creating readable layouts.

Why is understanding typography important when working with gutters?

Typography refers to how letters and words are arranged on a page. When paired with proper use of gutters, typography can vastly improve readability and overall design quality. Choosing appropriate typefaces and font sizes can also make it easier to fit more text into narrow columns without sacrificing legibility.

Remembering these tips when working with gutters can greatly enhance any print production project you work on!


  • Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Müller-Brockmann
  • Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton
  • The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
  • Designing Templates for Newsletters: A Guide for Business Communications Managers by Roger C. Parker
  • Layout Essentials: 100 Design Principles for Using Grids by Beth Tondreau
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