Infinity Loop: Five (Potential) Problems with Rotating Pages

So this past weekend I spent some time taking the standard portrait layout for One Spot and turning it on its side for a landscaped version. For One Spot #3: The Reeve I already have nearly four pages of content… Three pages with three columns and images and one page that will be the map with a location key. And I’m pondering adding *more* content. How’s that for crazy talk?

Question MarksEven so, I’ve had a number of concerns rise to the surface, so I’m just going to work through them one at a time…

First and foremost, I primarily read PDF products these days on my iPad. It makes it simple for me to download whatever files I need from cloud storage and check them out using the Adobe Acrobat Reader, Goodreader, or some other PDF-viewing application. I’ve had issues with some landscape-oriented publications in the past where rotating the device didn’t always have the expected results. That seems to have improved with Goodreader in more recent versions, so perhaps it’s less of a going concern.

Second, similar to the first, does it matter whether it’s going to be printed or used electronically? It seems there’s some debate on this point. I found an interesting chat on RPGnet about “Portrait vs. Landscape for PDFs”. Ultimately the conversation seems to have fallen on both sides of that fence, with some folks liking portrait and others liking landscape. It might make a difference if I was binding the book, but as this is a small number of pages at this point, it’s not really a big worry either. Originally I thought that folks might print these supplements, punch some holes in them and stick them into a 3-ring binder. But as tablets and eReaders have become more prevalent, it seems that small documents such as these are less likely to be printed physically (save the trees!) and just used on a device at the table if used at all.

Third, is more always better? The beauty of the two-page portrait-oriented layouts used for One Spot zero to 2 was that it was *all* on two pages. Wham, bam, you got it all. If I spill this over to multiple pages… three, four, or more pages… editing will become that much more important. Paring things down to the necessities and leaving GMs to fend for themselves with what’s left. Is too much content ever a liability? Probably not. So long as it has all the required details and enough for a GM to use in their own games, then I guess this is also just the paranoid part of my brain talking.

Fourth, page layout – though I have some experience with it – is not my forte. (That much should have been easy to figure out after it took me months to figure out that the relationship table along the margins of each One Spot was largely unusable when reading it online, on a tablet, or on the computer. Tough to rotate the page to read upside down text if the viewer always tries to keep it upright…) What kind of trouble can I create for myself and my readers?

This one is going to require some additional room, so bear with me. Ultimately this one, like the first two, is hogwash. It will just require a bit more research and thought. Thankfully there are many sources of inspiration already. With just a quick Google search, I came up with:

  • Thinking With Type has a great page with some practical tips and techniques devoted to the grid concept used all over the place in graphic design. It’s not specific to landscape oriented pages, but overall has some terrific food for thought.
  • also has a tutorial offering tips and techniques for page design. It’s mostly for magazine or brochure layout it seems, but again offers solid food for thought in addition to some examples.
  • InspirationHut has an article devoted to beautiful magazine and publication layouts to inspire you. And there are some gorgeous designs here.

So though my landscape layout may be a bit less flashy than some of the examples found above, I think I’ll be able to come up with something practical.

And lastly, art. Art always bites me in the butt. So this time, I’m taking a more economical approach. Instead of contracting out for specific pieces, I’m finding existing artwork (there’s a ton of stock art for sale) and will likely end up drawing the map by hand (or using GIMP or some other paint tool). If I have more pages, it will require more art, right? Well, yes and no. Not everything needs a picture. And I can get creative with sidebars, minimal shading, text boxes, and more to help break up any walls of text I end up with in these tiny documents.

Ultimately it appears I should just chug forward with my redesign and see how it turns out.

Do you know of any great resources for page layout tips and techniques? Leave them in the comments – I’m always looking for more!

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