Graphic design

Graphic design is the process of taking your raw text, ideas, photos, drawings and turning them into finished 'art-work' ready for the printers.

Good graphic design makes a publication look interesting and accessible. It grasps and maintains the reader's attention, creates visual signposts and leads readers through the publication according to the natural direction of reading.

Graphic design consists of layout (ie. making a rough design) and paste-up (making the finished artwork).

The easiest way to graphic design your publication is to employ a graphic designer. However if you are doing it yourself, either traditionally or on a personal computer there are a few basic rules you'll need to know.

These are the traditional tools for paste-up. Personal computers now provide the same tools on a computer screen.

Some basic rules
  • Be clean, be simple. Use the minimum variation in typefaces, column size, headings etc. necessary to maintain interest. The eye gets used to reading one typeface; using too many just creates work for the reader. (This booklet uses three typefaces, which is just about the limit.)
  • Think of the flow of reading. Grade the size of headings and articles to establish a natural flow of emphasis on each page - so the reader knows where to look next. There is nothing worse than a page crowded in screaming headlines and bitsy blocks of text all competing for attention.
  • Be interesting - use cartoons, illustrations, pull quotes, boxes, sub-headings, and 'running headings' (ie. like at the top of this page) to create visual interest and depth. There is no greater turnoff than a page of solid text. Think like the reader; ask - why should I read this page?
  • Use white space. It's a great tool for controlling the appearance of a publication. Simplicity and white space are the secrets of good design. Generally use white space at the top of the page around headings and illustrations.
  • Remove any graphic elements that present the reader with obstacles, difficult choices or visual confusion.

What is the natural direction of reading?

Left-to-right and top-to- bottom of course! The reader naturally starts at the top left-hand corner of a page and expects to finish at the bottom right-hand corner. The bottom left and top right corners are hence "fallow corners" which are natural places for illustrations where they won't impede the flow of reading.