In graphic design, there are many rules to learn and follow.

So it can often be a little confusing deciding where to start.

Let’s take it back to the basics, which is CRAP!

Don’t worry, I don’t mean it in that sense – but in the award-winning book by Robin Williams, The Non-Designer’s Design Book, it promotes the idea of CRAP in visual communication that stands for Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity.

To put simply, these principles help to create good, clear and easy to read designs and build visual awareness.

Let’s take a look at these in more detail…


Contrast is used to focus the viewers attention and to highlight the most important parts that they need to know.

As such, graphic designers should use colours, bold text and size to set apart different text and images to create contrast.

Think about it – contrast is used everywhere; jewellers for example use a black velvet background to make jewels stand out.

In fact, even this page you’re reading right now has used contrast in the form of headings, known as visual weight.

With that in mind, you want to create a focal point and then lead your viewer’s eyes around the page.

On the other hand, a lack of contrast can make designs difficult to navigate.


Repetition will not only create a better flow in your graphics, but can also help to emphasise the message.

For instance, repeated shapes or colours draw more attention and become more visible to the viewer.

Furthermore, repeating certain design elements will help to bring consistency and familiarity for the viewer.

Therefore, repeat features throughout the design to create visual connection and establish a strong brand style.


Alignment is when every item on the page should have a visual connection to the other items in the design; even if it’s an invisible line.

Consequently, if design features are not properly aligned, it can become distracting and sometimes leave the viewer wondering why it doesn’t connect with the overall piece.

Of course, the principle of alignment can be broken if you want to attract attention to a specific item.

However, mastering alignment at the beginning of your graphic design career will help you to deal with more advanced designs in the future.

Always remember, every item needs to be intentionally positioned and not just randomly placed.


Proximity is about grouping objects and placing them far away or close to each other.

For example, contact information on a business card should be placed together – you wouldn’t want it all over the place or it won’t be clear nor readable.

With that in mind, you’ll want to think about the relationship between different design elements and show what belongs together, otherwise your graphics can begin to look a little chaotic!

On the flip side, having too much white space will cause your design to look messy, so use logical groupings to connect objects together.

The Takeaway

Overall, graphic design is the most creative aspect when it comes to sharing information, and these 4 basic principles above should be followed to create clear and effective graphics.

By following these, not only will your content look more professional, it will make it easier for your audience to view too.

In the meantime check out our Graphic Design services.