My Photo
Location: Bellevue, Washington, United States

Nathan is both a writer and designer of books and eBooks and is part-owner of boutique publisher Long Tale Press, LLC. He is available to help make your eBook or Book publishing project come alive with great book design.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Is this important?

Or is this?

One of the older myths of page design held that if it was important it should be printed in red. And in some cases, red type does, indeed, draw attention. But in terms of sheer page dominance, red doesn’t hold a candle to strong pure black.

The value of a color often is less significant in cueing your audience to the importance of an issue than the background, position, and graphic treatment of the text. Let’s try that again:

Now this is important!

The first thing you notice is that if you want to use a color to emphasize a point, it should be the dominant thing that people see. The background behind this block of text is far more telling than the text itself. The fact that it creates a significant block across the page rather than just being behind the text portion is another thing that draws your eye to the color. Finally, the level of contrast between the text and the background is high enough that both read well. You'll notice that the red of the background is much more orangish than the red of the first line of type in this post. I’ll talk more about contrast in the next post.

So, if you want to use color to show something is very important, it helps to use the color to create a background or a solid block with type in it rather than to color the type on the same background as everything else. Let’s take one more look at this form to see if it works in reverse.

This is really important.

It makes a big statement whenever you put a black band across your page, but note that in order to make the type stand out against this, it is even yellower and not nearly as red. The reason? There simply isn’t enough value contrast between black and red to keep the type from disappearing into the background.

The rules for emphasizing text:
  1. Contrast is more important than color

  2. Large blocks of color draw the eye more rapidly than colored type

  3. Colored text against a black background needs to be even lighter than the background when black text is used against it

It’s as easy as 1-2-3.


Post a Comment

<< Home