ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Swiss Graphic Design

Updated on November 4, 2010

The International Typographic Style – Swiss Graphic Design

The Swiss Graphic Design Style, also known as the International Typographic Style, is a set of graphic design techniques that improve readability and function. The Swiss Style was developed in the 1950’s for the chemical and pharmaceutical industries to present textual information in a clean and highly legible manner. Key attributes include asymmetrical balance, grid based layouts, left justified text with ragged right text and the use of sans-serif style fonts. Typography is typically the primary design element followed by black and white photography. When illustrations are used, they are simple, geometric shapes that are also very clean and uncomplicated.


As Swiss Design is based upon a clean layout, ornamentation never used, in fact, the primary design element is usually typography itself. When illustrations are used, they are in the form of simple geometric shapes with no shading, these shapes are also used to direct focus to the main body of content. Most common, however, would be the use of photography as imagery, especially photography that has been isolated or has had the background removed.


Asymmetrical Layout

The International Typographic Style is also known for utilizing asymmetrical layouts. Simply stated, if you were to fold the design in half, both sides would be unequal, either vertically, horizontally or both. By default, when any given item is asymmetrical, everything gravitates towards the greater side. When applied to graphic design and typography the viewer will automatically, almost uncontrollably focus on the most prevalent side of the layout. Utilizing this strategy can make the difference between a quick glance and a lasting impression

The Golden Grid (The Swiss Graphic Design Grid)

Grids have long been used by designers to balance and measure content, a framework to seamlessly guide your viewer from one element to the next and ultimately to the main body of content. From type documents to motion pictures, the grid layout is argued to be the most widely used theory in visual design.

The Grid System is based upon a proportion (The Golden Ratio), which is 1.618. If your main body of content is 100 pixels wide, you would multiply it by 1.618 for an overall canvas width of 162. As you can see below, the Subtraction website is an excellent example. The overall width of the dog is 513 pixels and the total width of the image (and the website) is 830, the ratio is exactly 1.618.


The typeface used in Swiss Design is of the sans-serif family. The term sans-serif means without (sans in French) serif, an ornamental detail at then end of a typographical stroke. There are four primary fonts utilized and designed by the Swiss, with Helvetica being the most common choice, it literally translates to Swiss in Latin and was derived from H. Berthold’s Akzidenz-Grotesk in 1957.

Akzidenz-Grotesk by H Berthold 1896
Helvetica by Max Miedinger 1957
Univers by Adrian Fruitiger 1957
Folio by Bauer & Baum 1957

Left Justified / Right Ragged

As designers we have three tangible options, we can justify to the right, put it on center or justify to the left. When there is more than one row of text, it becomes tedious for readers to find the starting point of a new line unless if placed on center and even more difficult when justified to the right. As the Swiss Style relies heavily on the theory of readability, text is always justified to the left with consistent spacing (no stretching).

Swiss Typographic & Grid Influenced Websites

Visit the Grid System (link above) for the following layout templates

Photoshop 975px Grid System (6)
Photoshop 975px Grid System (12)
Illustrator 974px Grid System (12)


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Vector design profile image


      5 years ago from California

      You really discus some good points in this hub. i like your idea. thanks for sharing.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)