The four design principles

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  • The idea behind Contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar. In this case, elements are defined as things such as typeface, color, size, line thickness, shape, space, etc)If they are not the same, or are not related, then make them look very different. Contrast is often the most important visual attraction on a page – It’s what makes a reader look at the page in the first place.One purpose is to create interest on the page – if a page is interesting to look at, it is more likely to be read.Purpose number two is to help organize of the information. A reader should be able to instantly understand the way the information is organized, the logical flow from one item to another. The contrasting elements should never serve to confuse the reader or to create a focus that is not supposed to be the focus point.Add contrast through your typefaces choices, line thickness, colors, shapes, sizes, spaces, etc. It is easy to find ways to add contrast, and it’s probably one of the most fun and satisfying ways to ad visual interest. The important thing is to be strong. Don’t be a wimp!!
  • Avoid using all caps, as this makes the audience feel you are yelling at them. Avoid cramming graphics and text so close together, we all need room to breathe, and when items in publications are crammed together, it becomes harder to interpret.Avoid using every possible font color in one publication. Of course, the limits depend on the publication you are using. To give an extremist example: For a one page flyer, do not use 14 different fonts, and 12 different colors. Instead, if you must change your font, try to keep it down to at least 2-3 font styles, and 1-2 colors, maybe 3 in larger publications.Avoid inconsistent formatting, such as having one yellow word in a paragraph of white. Or applying Bold, Italics, and Underline to the same word – there are many different and effective ways to express yourself and make a point without resorting to primitive measures.


  • 1. The Four Design PrinciplesThe Non-Designer’s Design Book 3rd Edition
    Concepts and Techniques Using
    Microsoft Office 2007
  • 2. The four basic principles
  • 3. Contrast
    Contrast on a page helps attract attention
    Avoid merely similar elements
    Separate elements should not be similar
    If elements are not the same, make them very different
    Helps organization by separating elements
    Don’t be a wimp!
  • 4. Sample – Poor Contrast
  • 5. Sample – Good Contrast
  • 6. Repetition
    Repeat visual elements to help organize and strengthen unity
    Adds visual interest to the page
    Spatial Relationships
    Line Thickness
    Font Sizes
  • 7. Alignment
    Elements should not be placed arbitrarily
    Elements should have some visual connection
    Affects the mood of the piece
    Creates a clean, sophisticated, fresh look
  • 8. Proximity
    Items relating to each other should be grouped close together
    Items groups together become one visual unit
    Helps organize information, reduce clutter, and gives the reader clear structure
  • 9. Sample – Poor Proximity
  • 10. Sample – Effective Proximity
  • 11. Final Tips – In publications, avoid…
    Cluttering graphics/text too close together
    Using too many fonts and colors in one publication
    Using INCONSISTENT formatting to make a point