I have seen a lot of sketches of rough design for graphic design projects. But if one has to design text size, alignment, etc. is pen and paper a good way to plan?

If yes, how do people do it? Do they draw a block for every paragraph, or is it closer to the typeface like this: http://www.markboulton.co.uk/images/uploads/sketch2.gif

Please share your tips.

  • 1
    One designer I worked with draws out individual letters, with a pencil. With her drawings scanned, I usually could type the correct font exactly on top of it. I guess the answer could be "whatever works best for you".
    – Jongware
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 13:07
  • 1
    You can sketch layouts in paper. But you wouldn't typeset a book via sketching.
    – DA01
    Commented Jun 12, 2015 at 20:04
  • It's rather incongruous to ask about book design on an impermanent site. I suggested Adrian Wilson's The Design of Books, but my answer was deleted. FWIW, I wouldn't trust a person to do book design if they didn't have a shelf-full of books about designing books. Similarly, I'd expect a web designer to have a lot of web bookmarks, or a game designer to play lots of computer games.
    – WillAdams
    Commented Jun 18, 2015 at 13:28

1 Answer 1


For page layout, sketching is certainly a valid option. People don't tend to actually 'set type' that way as it'd simply be too tedious and not nearly as accurate. Instead they 'box out' the layout and 'greek' the type typically as simply boxes or lines of type.

Even in the Mad Men era hand drawn comps were rarely fully fleshed out with completely type. The headlines and key text would be hand lettered, but much of the copy would still be greeked to be spec'd later for the typesetting department to create (either in metal type or, later, photo and rub-down type).

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To answer your specific question:

is pen and paper a good way to plan?

Yes. To a point. The benefit of pen and paper is that it's fast. It lets you explore a lot of ideas really fast without getting bogged down with your tools.

If you happen to be extremely talented and hand lettering, then by all means, go for it. But if that's not your strength (and to be fair, it's not a strength a lot of us have), then it's likely just going to slow you down to do that level of detail by hand.

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