10 Rules for Good Graphic Design

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With more than a decade of experience in the Buffalo Printing and Buffalo Direct Mail industries, we know good design. Good design not only has to be eye-pleasing, but also must deliver your message with impact. In the spirit of helping you capture your reader’s attention and delivering your messages successfully, here are ‘10 Rules for Good Graphic Design.’

1. Design in straight lines.

To avoid confusing the reader and making your message look messy, design your communications pieces on an invisible grid. If text and visuals appear mostly in standard columns, with top and bottom margins uniform, your finished work will look more professional and be easier for the reader to get through.

2. Use white space.

You may be tempted to use every square inch of your communications pieces for text and visuals to get “more for your money.” Bad idea. The truth is, by opening up some space within your design, you’ll give the reader some breathing room to consider your message more carefully.

3. Use high quality visuals.

Always use the very best photography or illustrations you can afford. And use them selectively. A large photo or illustration that supports your key selling point will make a much greater impact than several poor quality visuals that make the reader wonder what you’re trying to communicate.

4. Limit your color choices.

Just as with home decorating, the pros can make things work that the average person just can’t pull off. To keep your communications looking consistent and professional, stick with your company’s color(s), and at most, one or two other complementary colors.

5. Use simple, clear, SHORT text.

Do you want to fight through clever headlines, complex paragraphs and repeated redundancies to figure out what someone is trying to tell you? Your readers don’t either. In fact, they won’t. Makesure you’ve included everything the reader needs to know, and not one word more. And, make sure the text is big enough to be read by all age groups.

6. Don’t mix more than two typefaces.

Yes, there are a lot of great typefaces out there. Just don’t use them all in the same communications piece. As a general rule, serif fonts, such as Times New Roman, work best for body text and sans serif fonts, such as Arial, work great for headlines. For professional-looking communications, stay away from fancy or frilly fonts such as script fonts or heavily serifed fonts like Old English.

7. Don’t let your text disappear.

To keep your text crisp and readable:

  • Don’t use light colors for headlines or text.
  • Keep backgrounds clear and simple.
  • Don’t reverse out large areas of text from a colored background.
  • And remember, dark text on a white background is the easiest to read.

8. Keep text and headlines away from edges and folds.

Text that disappears into a fold or looks like it’s going to fall off the edge of your document makes a poor impression for your business. That’s why we recommend designing on a grid with adequate margins and white space.

9. Never use your logo in a headline or body text.

Your logo should stand apart from all other images and text, a shining light that calls attention to your brand. Always keep the space around your logo clear of other visuals, backgrounds or text to make your business identity come through loud and clear.

10. Insert one space only between sentences.

Most of us were taught in typing to hit the space bar twice between sentences.

Toss that lesson out the window. It makes your printed piece look like it’s full of holes. One space between sentences is how the pros do it.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. John

    Lots of great design tips here. Out of all of them, I think the ones that highlight the importance of limiting yourself are key. With a lot of things, but especially graphic design, it’s important to avoid overdoing it. Keeping statements concise and to the point ensures that you get your message across without spelling it all out, and limiting yourself to a few colors at the most keeps the design from looking too busy and distracting the viewer from what you’re trying to communicate. Thanks for sharing!

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