Dissect a Document: Elements of Design so Your Doc. Doesn’t Flop!

We’ve all strained our eyes looking at a document that bores. Today, let’s look at 5 elements of design to apply when creating a document that guides your reader seamlessly through your information!

Contrast

One of the most important design elements is contrast. You can implement contrast in your headings, titles, figured numbers, table numbers, and pull-out boxes. Other examples of contrast are bolded and italicized text, change your text color, change font type, change the shape of an image, change the background color, or change the stroke or line around a shape or table. The golden rule of contrast is if EVERYTHING stands out, NOTHING stands out!

Alignment

Alignment helps your reader navigate through the document. As you create a document, you should consider both horizontal and vertical alignment. Most programs like Microsoft Word, Adobe Express, and Canva offer helpful alignment lines that show when your picture or text is in the best space and lined up with other items on the document.

Balance

Visually, designers have the challenge of deciding whether an element on the page is “heavy” or “light”. An example of a heavy item is a large, dark picture. An example of a light item is a pulled-out quotation from your document. Make sure you use your heavier objects along the bottom or margin of the page to give your document stability and balance.

Proximity

Proximity is another way to say grouping. Related information should go together in your document! Proximity helps your reader know what information goes together and where they should spend most of their focus on the document. You can use the element of proximity when designing a beautiful document by adding space before and after related paragraphs and headings and also with your placement of images and captions.

Consistency

Consistency is the practice of applying the above design principles in the same way on every branded document. Use the same font, size, type, and color for consistent branding. Check that your borders and paragraph spacing are uniform throughout. Remember that consistency helps your reader know what’s important and where information fits in the hierarchy of the document.

Use these 5 elements of design to create documents that help you stand out from the rest! To learn other tips on creating documents sure to stand out, check out our course Designing Beautiful Documents!

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