I'm very new to book layout—basically I need to produce books individually for myself and friends and I want them to look nice so I'm trying to learn how to do that. There's lots of helpful information online about canons, so I'm currently using Tchichold's Canon to lay out a book and to create a template.

The thing I can't find anywhere online is advice about placing page numbers, headers, and footers. Horizontal placement is of course no problem—"flush right," "flush left," and "center" are all very specific. But other than "below/above the margin," are there any principles that guide aesthetically pleasing vertical placement of these elements, either within the canons or otherwise? If so, what are they?

And—in case the answer to the above question is "no"—my more specific question: the book I'm currently working on (using Tchichold's Canon) is 6" by 9", with margins of 1" (top), 2" (bottom), .666" (inner), and 1.333" (outer). What would aesthetically pleasing placements be of page numbers, headers, and footers?

(In case it matters, I'm using Affinity Publisher.)

Thanks in advance for any help you're able to give!

1 Answer 1


Of corse there are many possibilities to position those elements, but as a starting point it helps to understand the reasoning behind the margins that you are using.

Tchichold's Canon uses the golden ratio (rounded 38.2% / 61.8%). An approximation of this, that is often used is "3 to 2" (33% / 66%).

I visualised it on the below graphic: Bottom and outside margins are 3:2 and inner and top margins are 3:2. So if you want to position Page numbers it makes sense to position them as well according to the golden cut; for example where the green rectangles are with 3 parts at the top and 2 parts at the bottom (or reverse).

As this layout is arranged through the precise golden cut, the blue boxes would not quite fit as perfectly as it may seem in the image below. They have been adjusted in size by a tiny bit...

enter image description here

But that said, Tchichold's Canon is kind of a difficult concept. For beginners I generally would rather recommend to use a simple grid with which you can much more intuitively align elements. As it is better to use a simple concept correctly rather than a complex system wrongly. =)

enter image description here

Especially when you have many elements like images or different text blocks a grid can be extremely useful.

enter image description here

  • Thank you so very much! Commented Sep 20, 2021 at 3:33

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