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Six Rules for great layout and design

Want to improve your design and layout skills? Here are a six rules based on the book 'Graphic Design Rules' to get you thinking.

Thou shall create a focal point for every layout

Most layouts will contain a piece of information that should be the first thing a reader looks at. In Western culture this is usually the top left of the page. It's no surprise this is where a headline is usually positioned. Sometimes it is good to break away from convention but the focus must be achieved using a visual device such as colour, font size or a strong graphic element.

Thou shall ensure spacing is consistent throughout a layout

A clean and consistent design is one way that a good design stands out from the rest. Being consistent with spacing, using a grid and positioning items mathematically, not just by eye is key.

Thou shall establish a visual hierarchy which leads to the most important information

It is easy to assemble all you content on the page. But getting the main point across is more difficult. Creating a hierarchy is the key. This can be done in lots of ways - the position on the page, colour, weight, size... Getting this right ensures the reader leaves with all of the needed information.

Thou shell note rely solely on the spell-checker two prick up every text error

Spell checkers are great for finding words that are not in the dictionary - and it's important to use them. But they won't highlight words that are spelt correctly but out of context. Every designer should possess a dictionary to support computer-based spell-checking. It is also best to decide on your preference for acceptable spelling variations such as US spelt words.

Thou shall not allow 'widows' or 'orphans' to appear in text

When working in columns the last line of a paragraph may fall on the first line of a column - called a widow. Or a paragraph may end with a single word at the bottom of a column - called an orphan. Both look visually wrong and need to be rectified by small adjustments to the spacing of words, letters and lines. Such attention to detail will keep the copy looking clean and attractive to read.

Thou shall not add two spaces after a full stop

Ever since the invention of movable type the correct amount of space after a full stop has been debated. With the invention of typewriters that had mono-spacing a single space was deemed not big enough and the convention of putting two spaces after a full stop was taught. These days with modern digital fonts and kerning pairs, software allows a bigger gap after a full stop so a double space is no longer required.

Want to be inspired by a year's worth of graphic design rules?

Read Graphic Design Rules - 365 Essential Design Dos and Don'ts by Sean Adams, Peter Dawson, John Foster & Tony Seddon.


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