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Relevance and Proportion in Desktop Publishing

Every graphic element should relate to its particular communications function and unique environment.

Just as in music, there’s nothing right or wrong about notes such as Middle C or B-flat, there are no “good” or “bad” typefaces or type sizes-only appropriate or inappropriate ones.

A newsletter of serious opinion, for example, requires a totally different design than a gardening newsletter with lots of pictures and short articles.

An image-building magazine ad requires a different design approach than a product and price-oriented newspaper ad.

A letterhead for a prestigious law firm should be easily distinguishable from a letterhead for a rock music promote.

Graphic design must be relevant. Each design should be judged on its ability to help the reader quickly and easily understand your message.

Form must always follow function. Think of graphic design as a means of communication rather than more decoration.

And a word of caution: Don’t let enthusiasm for the capabilities of your desktop publishing system get in the way of clear communication.

Clarity, organization and simplicity are as critical to design as they are to writing.

Always strive for cohesiveness between appearance and content. Important ideas, for example, should be made visually more prominent than secondary ideas or supporting facts and figures.

This should come as good news to those who have been intimidated by graphic design, thinking of it as an art practiced only by the gifted or the trained. If you use the appropriate tools, you should be able to produce effective, good-looking publication.

The size of all graphic elements should be determined by their relative importance and environment.

Because there are no absolutes in graphic design, success is determined by how well each piece of the puzzle relates to the pieces around it.

For example, proper headline size is determined partly by its importance and partly by the amount of space that separates it from adjacent borders, text and artwork. A large headline in a small space looks “cramped.”

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