Graphic Design Principles for Publishing

  • by Lois Nur Fathiarini
  • September 13, 2022
  • 4 minutes read


There are some graphic design principles for publishing to help deciding how to use design elements in publishing and website building area. There are four design principles: Balance, Emphasis, Rhythm and Unity. Design principles can help you to merge various design elements into a good design composition.


Balance often relates with two objects with equal weights. In graphic design area, we talk about visual ‘weight’. Every element in a visual form has a weight, it can be decided either by its darkness or brightness, or a line’s thickness or thinness. There are two basic approach to bring balance. The first one is symmetrical balance, an alignment of elements on it’s left and right with a center point as it’s symmetry axis. The second one is asymmetrical balance which has a different adjustment so both sides has the same visual weight. Color, hue, size, shape and texture can be used as balancing elements.

source: BsyBee Design

Symmetrical balance can communicate power and stability, and it can be used in traditional and conservative publishing, for presentation and web design. Meanwhile asymmetrical balance can convey contrasts, dynamic movement, surprise elements and informality. This is suitable for modern publishing and entertainment, also for modern presentations and web designs.

How to create Balance:

  • Repeat particular shape regularly with the same size, both vertically and horizontally.
  • Put an element as a centerpoint.
  • Put smaller visual forms in the other side to balance a big image or a block of text.
  • Use one or two irregular shapes and also make regular shapes.
  • Balancing a bold and strong text or font with bright colors.
  • Give a loose empty space for dark images or block of text.
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Rhythm is a pattern made from repeated and varied elements. Repetition (to repeat the same element consistently) and variation (change in shape, size, position or element) is the key for visual rhythm. Putting elements on a layout in a certain way can give a soft nuance, calm and relaxing. A sudden change in element size and spacing can convey a fast nuance, lively and more interesting rhythm.

source: The Type Tree Design

How to make Rhythm:

  • Repeat a series of elements with the same shape, also repeat the same spacing between elements to give an orderly rhythm.
  • Repeat a series of increasingly larger elements with larger spacing continuously to make a progressive rhythm.
  • Use varied font type: bold and thin, large and small.
  • Mix dark pages (because of dark text block or image) with ‘light’ pages (less text and bright colors/image).
  • Repeat the same shape in some layouts.
  • Repeat the same element in the same position for every printed pages such as newspaper or magazines.


Emphasis is what’s most visible at the first sight. A layout need a focus point to attract readers to a part that feels important. Too many focus point will be distracting. Generally, a focus point is gained when an element looks different than the others.

source: MARION Marketing Agency

How to make Emphasis:

  • Use aligned spacing, but put image or photograph in an irregular frame or element.
  • Put the important part of the text in a different placing or position than others.
  • Use bold font in title or subtitle, but using regular font for page content.
  • Use bright font color in a dark space.
  • Use irregular color or font in the most important part.
  • Put a list on the side part of the layout by giving an extra emphasis box.
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Readers need a visual sign to let them know each part of the unit- text, title, photograph, graphic images and other contents. A unity of element is needed to mix and match everything. One way to unite elements is by putting them in groups. Categorize them by color, shape and texture. Use grid (a structure base of a page) to build a framework for margin, columns, spacing and proportions.

source: InVision

How to make Unity:

  • Use only one or two font types, differentiate them only by size or color.
  • Be consistent with font type, size and style for title, subtitle, headers, footers, etc in all publishing, presentation or website.
  • Use the same color palette.
  • Repeating color, shape or texture in different area.
  • Choose a similar visual form for color, theme or shape.


In recent days there are less printed publishing products such as magazine and newspaper, but the demand is still there in the form of e-books, infographics, e-magazines, etc. That’s why understanding basic principles of graphic design for publishing is still need to be scrutinized, and it can be combined also with UX or other graphic design features needed in the future world.


Hello! My name is Lois, I live in Jogjakarta, Indonesia. I am a tattoo artist and I also love sewing and making needleworks. I also do watercolor painting and illustrations.

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