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The Golden Rules of Graphic Design

The Golden Rules of Graphic Design

Golden Rules of Graphic Design

We spoke previously about rules for non-graphic designers and how you can make your designer’s job easier, well today’s focus is all about the golden rules for graphic designers themselves. Times change, skills adapt but some rules should always stay the same, here are a few of our favourites:

Get to Really Know Your Client

Seriously, before any planning goes ahead, figure out exactly what your client wants, how they work, what kind of deadlines they want and most importantly their exact specifications. Extract as much information as you can from them, it will make the whole process so much easier. A happy client means a happy designer.

Print Areas

Before excitedly getting into the fun, creative process, remember to think ahead. Set up your blank document and set print area margins (the print area guidelines where text and images should finish). 10mm from all sides for A4 documents, 8mm for A5, 6mm for A6 and 4mm for business cards (to allow for print bleeds).

Never Stretch Fonts and Images

Keep an eye on images and type in your design, so that you don’t stretch them out of proportion when making adjustments. Typeface design is a very skilled, time-consuming job, especially when you are dealing with logos. It needs to be just right. While you may not think that anyone can see the image is slightly out-of-balance, everyone can see it.

Saving Versions and Layers

As you go along, mistakes will occur, it’s inevitable. But make sure to save your early layers on Photoshop (even if you create 10 versions in 1 day). It may seem like a lot of space to use up but you just don’t know when those early edits could really save your bacon. You even use them again in the future as templates. And, of course, save regularly! Make it an obsessive habit. Technology fails, be on top of it.

Widows and Orphans

When creating pages of text you have to be careful not to create ‘widows’ and ‘orphans’. Widows are end sentences that fall onto different pages (therefore away from related text) and ‘orphans’ are words or part of words at the end of a sentence that get forced onto their own line. You want all blocks of text to be grouped together. Consistency is key.


Use Pantone references to make sure you get your colours exactly right for your client. You don’t want any nasty surprises on print day. Read more about our print specifying tips here.


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