Design Elements

Line (more examples Line #1Line #2)

line is any mark connecting two points. Many different types of lines appear everywhere. Look around you and you'll see lines that are straight, curved, squiggly, thin, fat, and dotted. Lines can be used to:

  • Organize information.
  • Highlight or stress words.
  • Connect pieces of information.
  • Outline a graphic or set it off from other elements.
  • Create a grid. (A grid is the underlying structure of a page.)
  • Create a chart or graph.
  • Create a pattern or rhythm by drawing many lines.
  • Direct the reader's eye or create a sense of motion. (Create a sense of action by using a diagonal line.)
  • Suggest an emotion.
Shape (more examples Shape #1Shape #2)

shape is anything that has height and width. Unusual shapes can be used to attract attention. There are basically three types of shapes:
  • Geometric shapes, such as triangles, squares, rectangles, and circles, are regular and structured. These shapes work very well as building blocks for graphic design.
  • Natural shapes, such as animals, plants, and humans, are irregular and fluid.
  • Abstract shapes, such as icons, stylized figures, and graphic illustrations, are simplified versions of natural shapes.
With shape you can:
  • Crop a photo in an interesting way, such as in an oval.
  • Symbolize an idea.
  • Make a block of text more interesting by setting the text into a shape.
  • Create a new format.
  • Highlight information. You could add a screened or tinted shape to highlight important information.
Texture (more examples Texture #1Texture #2)

Texture is the look or feel of a surface. You can add richness and dimension to your layouts with texture. Visual texture creates an illusion of texture on a printed publication. Patterns, such as the images printed on wrapping paper, are a type of visual texture. Tactile texture can actually be felt. Printed publications can be printed on textured paper that readers can feel. Texture can be used to:

  • Give a printed publication a mood or personality
  • Create contrast for interest.
  • Fool the eye.
  • Provoke emotions.
  • Create a feeling of richness and depth.

Space (more examples Space #1Space #2)

Space is the distance or area between or around things. Space separates or unifies, highlights, and gives the eye a visual rest. Space can be used to:

  • Give the eye a visual rest.
  • Create ties between elements.
  • Highlight an element. Put a lot of white space around something important to call attention to it.
  • Make a layout easy to follow.
  • Make type as legible as possible

White space (the absence of text and graphics, also known as "negative space") is vital to graphic design. The key is to add just enough white space so the eye knows where to go and can rest a bit when it gets there. You can control white space in the following location: margins, paragraph spacing, spacing between lines of text, gutters (the space between columns), and surrounding text and graphics.

Size (more examples Size #1Size #2)

Size is how large or small something is. Size is very important in making a layout functional, attractive, and organized. It shows what is most important, attracts attention, and helps to fit the layout together. Size can be used to:

  • Show which element is the most important by making it the largest.
  • Make all elements easy to see.
  • Attract attention.
  • Contrast two elements to create interest.
  • Establish a consistent look throughout a printed publication.