July 20, 2009 / Design

Design Principles

Written by Idea File Staff


  • all elements need to be balanced
  • each page element has its own weight
  • horizontal vs. vertical
  • formal vs. informal
  • modules are your friends


  • contrasting element weights, type form
  • avoid too much gray


  • place the most important elements in the most prominent positions
  • be sure to have a dominant photo-center of visual interest


  • stick with rectangles-no squares
  • all pages should be unified through type, design style
  • form always follows function


  • your computer is a tool-not a toy. Remember, the motivation behind strong design is readability

Design Checklist

  • The spread contains photos, captions for all photos, copy and a headline
  • Elements are placed within a column format, observing column lines
  • The two facing pages are linked into a single unit by an eyeline
  • The reader is guided across the spread by real or implied lines
  • There is a dominant photo that is 2 to 2 1/2 times larger than others on the page
  • The other photos in a variety of sizes repeat and contrast the shape of the dominant
  • Photos are bled with purpose and direction, no more than one on each margin
  • Consistent external margins are maintained and are defined with at least one element touching
  • Consistent internal spacing of 1 pica is used with larger amounts of white space to the outside
  • Copy blocks and accompanying headlines are planned as solid rectangular units
  • Captions touch the photos to which they refer and are placed to the outside
  • No more than two captions are stacked or grouped together
  • Any graphic technique enhances the content and does not merely call attention to itself
Idea File Staff

Idea File Staff reports are posts compiled by the Walsworth Yearbooks Marketing Department, covering a wide range of yearbook topics.