Chess Journalists of America

The following article was published in The Chess Journalist, Vol. XXXII, No. 3, Consecutive No. 109, September 2003. Copyright 2002 by the United States Postal Service.

Six tips for Graphic Design

1) One thing dominates the page
When you look at a well-designed page, there is usually one dominant feature to catch you eye. It could be the headline or the picture, but not both. Something has to dominate. And while it might be tempting to throw in a little starburst that says "One Week Only," be careful how you use it. When you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing.

2) Minimize typeface variety
Your computer may come with 327 fonts, but that doesn't mean you have to use wevery one of them. The best designer stick with one, maybe two per piece -- plus the logo. A good rule of thumb is to use large, bold type for headlines and, if they're particularly good, prices. Use a smaller, easy-to-read typeface for text.

3) White space
Don't feel compelled to fill every inch of space with copy or pictures. A dense blob of type and pictures can lok unattractive and turn readers away. An open and airy design is inviting and friendly.

4) Easy-to-read text
Equally important as the overall design of the page is the design of specific text blocks. If the type is too small or condensed, if the columns are too wide, if the paragraphs are too long, it becomes too much work to read and people won't. Keep this in mind when creating letters, too. Break up the page by interspersing short paragraphs with long, indenting paragraphs, using bullet points or bold subheads.

5) Use relevant illustrations
The purpose of the illustration is to help draw attention to your message. That's not to say that a plumber has to show faucets in his mailing or that a dentist has to show teeth. That plumber could, for instance, show Niagara Falls.

6) Clear, visible logo and call-to-action
You got the readers' attention and guided them through enough information. You aroused their interest and desire. Now you have to let your readers know whom to but it from and how. Don't confuse a clear, visible call-to-action with a big, oversized name, address and phone number. Just make sure a reader can see these elements without having to look for them.

[[© 2002 United States Postal Service]]

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