Format & Orientation


Format in design refers to layout, or the surface area in which a composition is created. A brochure, a greeting card, or a flyer are some examples. The way the image is created, cropped, and placed can follow two format arrangements: "portrait" and "landscape".

Portrait - A format that displays and prints the image across the wider side of the document.
Landscape - A format that displays and prints the image across the narrow side of the form.

Choosing between "portrait" and "landscape" is a format decision familiar to anyone who has printed a document. Computer screens are typically horizontally oriented and more conducive to the "landscape" set up. However, some web designers use a vertical or "portrait" format which often results in the user having to scroll down to view the remaining images and material.


A vertically formatted (portrait) web page

A page that is formatted horizontally (landscape)

We typically think of the format as rectangular, but the format can be any geometric shape or free form. Think of street signs, cds, jewel cases and album covers, menus, bumper stickers, or even a t-shirt. Their shapes provide the format for the design.


Orientation is the "point of view" or perspective of a design. A conventional orientation may show an object or image from an expected perspective. An unconventional or non-traditional orientation might present the subject from an extreme or unusual perspective. Lines can also suggest direction or orientation.

Traditional orientations in portraiture show the subject upright and looking forward or slightly off to one side or, less often, in profile.
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Non-traditional, modern views might show the subject from an unexpected angle, or at such a close range that only a certain part of the face is seen:
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A more non-traditional view: