A program to calculate text areas according to Villard de Honnecourt and Jan Tschichold

Villard is a program that I wrote in the summer of 2005 inspired by two essays by Jan Tschichold, »Die Proportionen des Buches« (1955) and »Willkürfreie Maßverhältnisse der Buchseite und des Satzspiegels« (1962).[] Although I don’t especially sympathize with Tschichold II – the reactionary of the years after the Second World War – his fundamental thoughts on the layout of the page and the proportion of the text area are still very much worth reading.

Use of the program is quite simple: The first step is to chose the width and height of the page – either as a free proportion or, after fixing one dimension (horizontal or vertical), according to the following common proportions [1]:

golden section
1:squareroot of 2

In the second step the program allows you to calculate the relation between page and text area according to the three most important proportions described by Tschichold (precision of two decimals):

1. The first construction [2] goes back to the medieval architect Villard de Honnecourt (beginning of the 13th century). It divides the page horizontally and vertically into nine equal parts, the intersection of page and double-page diagonals thus dividing the page horizontally and vertically in the proportion of 1:3 to 2:3. It is more flexible than Tschichold’s constructions A und B, allowing a freer relation between page height (ph) and page width (pw).

2. Jan Tschichold’s »Construction A« [3]. The starting point is the intersection of the circle (radius: left page diagonal [x²+y²=ph²+pw²]) with the right page diagonal. Top and inside margin of the text area are identical. Outside margin is twice, bottom margin three times as large. The construction uses a ratio of 2 [width] to 3 [height].

3. Jan Tschichold’s »Construction B« [4]. The starting point is also the intersection of the circle (radius: left page diagonal [x²+y²=ph²+pw²]) with the right page diagonal. The upper margin is instead given by the intersections of page and double-page diagonals. The construction also uses a ratio of 2 [width] to 3 [height].

What you can do with the resulting parameters:

copy as text into the clipboard

copy as an image into the clipboard

save as jpg

print out a preview [5]


System: Win98-WinXP.

The program is just one file (ca. 2,8 MB), which you can copy in a directory of your choice. Start it with a doubleclick. It leaves no traces in the registry and does not use any temporary or ini-files. You can deinstall it by simply deleting it.

Demonstration version (zip-file, 428 kb) for tryout
No time limit.
Fully functional with one exception: Limitation of the page format to the ratio of 8:9
[ Version 3.0, 23.9.2005
* Better preview
* DIN A0 - DIN A7 Options
* Selection of golden section allows output of the related Fibonacci sequence ]

The program is available exclusively from the Institut für Textkritik e.V., Heidelberg

Price EUR 25.- / $ 33 / SFr 35

This is a non-profit enterprise. Moneys received will go towards the costs of the editions produced by the Institut für Textkritik.

Bank account:
Institut für Textkritik e.V.
Kto. 0286732
Deutsche Bank, Heidelberg
(BLZ 672 700 24)
IBAN: DE43 6727 0024 0028 6732 00

Please send orders and enquiries to:


[Translation with help by R.K.]

Roland Reuß,
Heidelberg, 11. September 2005