Designing a Digital Planner - First Steps

Designing a Digital Planner - First Steps
So you want to make your own digital planner for GoodNotes. But, where do you start? I've done a lot of research and I've found that, so far, there aren't any set rules. Each digital artist has their own preferences. However, there are a few common factors.

Hyperlinked PDF
How to export our digital planner as a hyperlinked PDF for GoodNotes is our first factor. Many artists use Keynote, Google Slides, InDesign or Powerpoint to create their planners. After experimenting with Keynote, I found that when you export your planner from Keynote, it will have a default resolution of 300 dpi. So, we will want to create our planner design assets with a resolution of 300 dpi or set a custom dpi for the document. But what page dimensions should we use?

GoodNotes Page Sizes
Our second factor is the GoodNotes app. GoodNotes has many built-in planner page sizes (see screenshot). The GoodNotes Standard size is 2386 px by 1491 px at 264 dpi. This converts roughly to 9 inches by 5.6 inches. The GoodNotes Letter is 8.5 by 11 inches.

The next decision to be made is between squared or rounded corners for our cover, dividers and pages. After a little testing in Photoshop, I decided to use a 40 px radius for rounded corners on the cover and square corners for the dividers and pages.

Portrait or Landscape Orientation
Planners come in two orientations (see screenshot). With the portrait or vertical orientation, we will have only a one page view or spread. Using the GoodNotes Standard page size, a vertical planner page can be as large as 9 inches tall and 5.6 inches wide.

With the landscape or horizontal orientation, we can have both a one-page or a two-page spread. With the single-page spread, our page can be up to 5.6 inches tall and 9 inches wide. With a two-page spread, each page can be up to 5.6 inches tall and 4.5 inches wide.

Perfect, Spiral or No Binding
Some digital planners are designed with perfect binding. With perfect binding, the cover is usually one large rectangle, with the binding as a small vertical rectangle on the left edge. However, spiral and disc binding are more popular. With this binding, the pages are held together by a metal coil or plastic discs (see screenshot).

8 by 8 Grid
As we all know by now, GoodNotes is an app for the iPad. Depending on your iPad model, the screen size varies but there is one thing that is standard. Each screen size is divisible by 8. Why does this matter. I mention this only because the 8 px grid is very popular with UI (user interface) designers.

I started using an 8 px grid when I was designing the graphics for a few iPad book apps. And, I found that the grid really helped in my workflow. To get more information about the 8 pixel grid and image size and resolution guidelines for mobile apps, use the links below.

Human Interface Guidelines for iOS

Intro to The 8-Point Grid System

The 8-Point Grid

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This content was written by Diane Cipollo. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Diane Cipollo for details.