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Alignment in Design: Drawing the eye down the page

The last blog post brought you the design principle proximity. Now it is time to move onto the next one. This week, we’re diving into alignment to help our designs be more organized!

Principle of Design: Alignment

Alignment definition: Making visual connections throughout the design

Using the alignment design principle is an excellent way to connect the information throughout the design. This is one way that you can create unity in a design. (More on unity in a later blog post!)

The easiest way to define alignment is to show some examples.

saxon
Image Source

Look at the image above and answer this question: Is there anything on the page that looks out of place? According to the principle of alignment, nothing should be randomly placed on the page.

Do you see how the designers used the strong left alignment to connect all the information? (And as a side note, do you see how he used proximity to separate the title from the contents?)

There are 3 different kinds of alignment:

3 types of alignment

It seems like most often, centered alignment is chosen by default. I would strongly advise against this! It’s not that centering text is a terrible thing, but it needs to be chosen with purpose. 

Movie flyer

Take a look at the movie club flyer above. It presents a dull, almost amateurish look, which may influence someone's initial reaction to the event. What would it look like if the designer changed the alignment to the left or to the right? It never hurts to try using different alignment options, even if one doesn’t think that they will look good. You never know unless you try!

Movie flyer

The strong flush-left alignment makes the poster look more sophisticated. There is a strong connection between the different parts of the movie poster, emphasizing the intellectual relationship between them. The obvious application for a left alignment is paragraph text, but it could be used in virtually any format.

When choosing centered alignment, consider the purpose of the design. The “lines” of a centered text are “soft” (see the first movie flyer image above), and it seems to work really well for more formal occasions. 

Wedding invite
Image Source

The centered alignment combined with the script font above makes for a very sophisticated and elegant look. Wedding invitations, cover pages, or perhaps funeral home advertisements would be good for centered alignment. 

Magazine cover
Image Source

As for right alignment? Well, a designer can have a lot of fun with a right aligned design. It has a tendency to make a statement and it works well for small amounts of text (NOT paragraph text). Think of restaurant flyers, magazine covers or bill boards.


Now for some tips and tricks for applying alignment in your designs and layouts:

  1. Be conscious of where you place elements. 
  2. Try all three alignments in your design before you decide on one. (Choose your alignment on purpose; don’t choose centered by default.)
  3. Always find something else on the page to align with.
  4. Avoid using more than one text alignment on the page.

 

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