Elements of Print Design:

How to Add White Space
An important design element missing from the page layouts of many novices is "nothing" or white space. It breaks up text and graphics and provides visual breathing room for the eye.

Here's How:
1.Use a line of space or a deep indent (but not both) to put space between paragraphs.
2.Gutters that are too narrow cause the eye to skip over to the next column. Put space between columns with adequate gutters.
3.Use ragged-right alignment to add space between columns and at the end of lines of text.
4.If space is necessarily cramped within the body of the publication, add white space with generous margins on one or more sides.
5.When wrapping text around graphics or wherever text and graphics meet, provide plenty of standoff. Don't run text right up to the edge of graphics.
6.Add space between headlines or subheads and the preceding copy and a bit below as well.
7.Add typographic white space by increasing the leading of body text, using lighter type, avoiding letterspacing that is too tight, and avoiding unending condensed or heavy type.

1.Achieve a balance of ink and white space using a mix of techniques described above, as appropriate to your design.
2.Avoid "bad" white space caused by trapping space within text, rivers of white (often found with unadjusted justified type), overuse of expanded type, too wide gutters, excessive leading, and poorly kerned headlines.

The Basic Design Elements Are: Lines, Shapes, Mass, Texture, and Color.


Lines can take many forms. They can be loose and free or they can be straight and sharp. Lines can create patterns which adds emotional impact to the visual image. Lines can also be used as forms of universal language in communication.
A line is a mark connecting two points. How we get from point A to point B gives the line its distinctive character and appearance. Lines can be long or short, straight or curved. Lines can be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. Lines can be solid, dashed, thick, thin, or of variable width. The endings of lines can be ragged, blunt, or curved.

Using lines in logos

Lines come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Don't get stuck in a rut. Vary the thickness. Make lines of dots, dashes, or combinations. Look at the patterns that a series of lines make.
Use lines to direct eyeflow, form barriers, indicate connections, show movement. Be aware of what the shape of lines can convey. Sharp edges could indicate tension, crispness, hardness, formality, or high tech. Soft edges and curves may be softer, flowing, more casual, or more personal.
Even small changes in line thickness, endings, or shape changes can alter the look and feel of a design. 
In the second example, the lines that make up the triangle (letter A) go from thick at the bottom to thin at the top. They also suggest a set of steps (advancement) leading upward. 
Notice how the round line endings give this hammer --drawn freehand with straight and curved lines a softer feel.

The second version of the ifiche logo uses rounded line endings and more curves (in the fins/lashes). Notice that a different type face is chosen for each, to match the style of lines.
You can also create interesting patterns with a series of repeating lines. None of these designs rely on color -- although changes in color can further change the appearance of the lines.

Lines: Practical Applications
Some ways that you might use lines in your design are to:

  • Organize, connect, separate
  • Create movement
  • Provide texture
  • Convey a mood or emotion
  • Define shapes
  • Provide emphasis
  • Provide a framework
  • A solid line separates columns of text, a pair of lines set apart a phrase, and a short dotted line separates a section of text from other parts of the page.
    A few simple lines added to a piece of clip art gives a sense of movement to the airplane. Short, choppy, vertical lines create a grooved texture along the edge of the timepiece sketch.
    Dashed lines suggest a coupon, whether there is one or not. It causes many of us to take a second look at this ad because the familiar dashed line makes us think "I can save money!"
    If you frame your pictures with a solid line, use the same weight for all the mug shots. Or try something different, such as dots, dashed lines, or a combination of thick and thin lines. Use a frame that echoes other elements in your publication --in color, thickness, or style.
    You can also use lines -- solid, dotted, or dashed -- to connect your mug shots. In this example (left) a dashed line holds together a group of dissimilar (but uniformly sized) mug shots.
    Combine mug shots with other elements. The heavy rule line and mug shot could be used as a recurring department head. 
    When you must arrange mug shots in a row -- horizontally or vertically -- create a chain. Use frames and connecting rules to create a photo chain such as the one shown here.


    The three basic shapes: square, circle, and triangle.

    Each of these shapes have a psychological meaning associated with it. The triangle has the attitude of conflict or action. The circle gives the feeling of protection or infinity. Honesty or equality is associated with the square.

    The square denotes honesty and stability. Squares are familiar, trusted shapes. Because the vast majority of the text we read is set in squares and rectangles, it has become familiar, safe, and comfortable.

    Squares and rectangles are probably the most common geometric shapes we encounter. A few books, especially those for kids, may be cut in irregular shapes but adult (i.e. 'serious') correspondence comes in squares -- both the physical shape of the books, magazines, newspapers, and the rectangular columns of set text.

    Some designers might equate square with boring. It's true that other, unexpected shapes, can grab attention better than the simple square but don't forget the importance of comfort and familiarity. Imagine how difficult it becomes to file everyday correspondence if letterhead came in a variety of triangles or freeform shapes. Try reading an entire book with all the text set in circles. Squares and rectangles definitely have a place in design.

    Some ways you can use squares and rectangles:

    Circles suggest infinity. They are also protective (think of protective encircling arms). They can also denote free movement such as a rolling ball or a more controlled movement such as a spinning globe. The sense of movement is often enhanced through shading or the use of lines.

    Outside of logo designs, circles are less common elements of design which makes them good for grabbing attention, providing emphasis, and breaking up familiar rectangular blocks of text. You could set text in circles or simply use a circle as the background for more traditional blocks of text.

    Some ways you can use circles:

    Triangles suggest action. They are dynamic. Triangles may convey either conflict or strength. Triangles can direct movement (up, down, left, right ? depending on which way they 'point') but rather than moving themselves, they point the way for the reader.

    Triangles are suggestive of many different shapes and ideas. They can represent a religious Trinity, a pyramid, a flag or pennant, an arrow, a beacon.

    Some ways you can use triangles:

    Mass refers to the size or amount of space taken up by an element. The mass or solid, plus the shape, tend to give relationship with other elements The various weights of different shapes can be used to emphasize type styles.


    Texture is a part of every printed image. The first reaction is to touch the surface. Texture can be produced by lines that form images. However this element is usually visual and no reaction would be received through the sense of touch. Actual texture can be produce by embossing.


    When color is used on a layout, it causes that part of the layout to attract attention. Color can have a strong emotional and psychological impact on the reader. It can be used to add interest and to reduce boredom. Yellow, orange, and red are considered warm colors and often denotes aggression, excitement, and danger. Blue, green, and violet are considered to be cool colors and are associated with nature and passiveness.

    The Basic Design Principles Include: Balance, Contrast, Unity, Rhythm, and Proportion.


    Balance refers to equalizing the weight of elements in a design. Formal balance is achieved when all of the elements on the page are of equal weight and are placed symmetrically on the page. If a line were drawn through the exact center, it would divide the design elements in half. Informal balance may be achieved when the value, size, and location of unequal elements on a page are changed.


    Contrast or emphasis adds variety to a design. It is the variations of elements in the printed product. Some elements of a layout stand out because of contrast. This is achieved by a difference in size, color or appearance. A few contrasts are: round and straight, ornate and plain, broad and narrow. Contrast can be used to keep the attention of the reader and to keep the reader's interest moving from one element to another.


    Unity or harmony gives elements the appearance of belonging together. It is the proper balance of all elements so that a pleasing whole results. The image is viewed as one piece, as a whole, and not as separate elements. Using too many shapes or typefaces may cause a design to be unfocused. An organized design can be achieved by using a basic shape which is then repeated.


    Rhythm is used to create eye movement and direction. It occurs when a design element is repeated. Rhythm acts as guide so the eye reads important parts of a message. Numbers can then be used to direct the reader from one element to another.


    Proportion is the relationship between size and shape. It helps to achieve balance and unity in a layout. To obtain good proportion the sizes of the elements must be regulated. To avoid the design from being dull and static, proportion must be balanced by the use of contrast or unity. Proportion is a means of developing an aesthetically pleasing relationship between each of the elements used in the layout.

    http://desktoppub.about.com/compute/desktoppub/library/weekly/aa012301b-line1.htm by Jacci Howard Bear