Explore 5 principles that will guarantee effective communication for your next print design project.

Example of a print invitation with the title “Garden Concerts” and botanical graphics

There are endless ways to approach print design. Here are just a few fundamental ideas to help you avoid common pitfalls and create the most effective pieces.

White space

Including blank or “white space” in your design focuses the viewer’s attention on your message, which can increase its impact. 

  • Don’t assume that more is more. Visual clutter is often distracting and confusing to the user.
  • Do include enough distance between design elements for the viewer to visually distinguish different sections. Columns and guides in InDesign are helpful here.
  • Don’t think of white space as “empty.” This space, also known as negative space, creates a focal point, showing the user which information or visual to focus on.
Side-by-side examples of good and bad use of white space in layout

Content hierarchy and organization

Understanding the hierarchy of your content can help you to create more compelling designs. 

  • Do create a focal point. On an event flyer, for example, you want to draw people’s attention to essential information like date, location, and time.
  • Do repeat key design elements to create a visual language. You can store and share assets for reuse with Creative Cloud Libraries.
  • Do use InDesign features like Adobe Fonts, font size, and color to visually convey the relative importance of different components in your design.
  • Don’t forget to use master pages — they’re like templates — for consistent elements such as page numbers, headers, and more.
Side-by-side examples of good and bad content hierarchy and organization in layout

Balance and alignment

By properly balancing and aligning design content, you’ll create layouts that are easier to navigate and more visually appealing.

  • Do use margins, columns, and guides in InDesign to structure your design.
  • Do anchor design elements to each other or to a grid or guides to create visual relationships.
  • Don’t ignore alignment. The information you’re presenting has a natural balance, and your design should embody it to avoid visual tension.
Side-by-side examples of good and bad balance and alignment in a layout

Use color effectively

Color evokes emotion. It can make the difference between your design getting noticed or not. 

  • Do use color and contrast to highlight important content. Browse the Adobe Color Themes panel for ideas.
  • Do save your colors as swatches in InDesign to maximize consistency and efficiency.
  • Do use color to create contrast or “pop.”
  • Don’t use too many colors. Limit your color palette to keep the viewer’s attention focused on what matters and avoid creating a visually busy design.
  • Don’t forget to incorporate brand colors to reinforce brand recognition.
Side-by-side examples of good and bad use of color in layout

Ensure readability

For the best user experience, make the text in your design as easy to read as possible.

  • Do limit the total number of fonts in a design and select fonts that pair well together.
  • Do use kerning, tracking, and alignment in InDesign to make your text more readable.
  • Do ensure there is enough contrast between the text and the background.
  • Don’t make your lines of text too long.
  • Don’t forget to spell-check your text, and proofread it to catch errors that spell-check misses.
Side-by-side examples of good and bad readability in layout

Understanding the essential do’s and don’ts of print design lays an excellent foundation for your print design projects. However, these guidelines are not set in stone. With them in mind, you can judge when a project calls for a different approach.


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