Vocab Lesson 5: the Gutter

Vocab Lesson 5: the Gutter It has many meanings, but in publishing, the gutter refers to the space where 2 facing pages meet. Much like in bowling, you don't want things to fall into it...

When you're designing a spread on-screen, you see the whole thing laid out flat in front of you. But open up a thick magazine and you'll realize a good amount of the page gets "lost" in the gutter. This happens more so in perfect-bound magazines than in saddle-stitched pubs. And this is why you want to avoid running type across the middle of the spread, so that your words or important elements aren't swallowed up in the binding area. 


So while the layout on the left above might look good on-screen, when it gets bound into a magazine a lot of the headline and copy disappears. The extra spacing between "Lost" and "in" on the right layout looks odd when looking at it as a flat spread on-screen, but when published, you'll see that extra space disappears and makes for a readable headline. In addition, wider interior margins keep the body text from being swallowed up.

Sometimes, the word gutter is also used to describe the space between columns of text. You'll see this in InDesign when setting up columns. Under Text Frame Options, there's a Gutter setting which allows you to set the amount of space between your columns. Often times this space is also called an alley.

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Want more? Check out our previous Vocab Lessons:

"Vocab Lesson" is a recurring feature on our SPD Student Blog. Tune in every Wednesday for a new word of the week. And if you come across a term you can't quite figure out, email it to us at spdstudentoutreach@gmail.com and we'll define it in a future post.

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