Designing for Print

designing for print

Editor’s note: This post was written by Andy Brattle, who works as Managing Director at a branding agency in London, specialising in professional design services like event materials, press advertising, brochure design, corporate literature and much more. He loves to share his thoughts on the latest design trends and upcoming digital marketing tactics. You can find his updates on twitter at – @andybrattle.

It would be short-sighted to think that the digital media boom over the last ten years spelt the end of print design. The use of print adverts, posters, flyers, magazines, brochures and billboards still accounts for a huge portion of advertising space. Print media is tangible and malleable in a way that digital isn’t; people make a different connection with a page they can actually touch and feel. And a billboard talks to everybody that passes by, not just those with mobile phones or tablets. There is also a sense of tradition and legitimacy that comes with the physicality of print media, so there remains a wealth of things to consider when designing for print.

designing for print

What Is Your Aim?

What do you want to achieve with your print design? Are you trying to attract new customers, or perhaps offering a new service to existing ones? Whatever your aim, make sure that every aspect of your print design is complicit. A serious message with a comedy image and Comic Sans will immediately undermine your credibility, so ensure that every creative decision you make when designing for print is chosen in support of a unified objective.

The Basics of Layout

There are several key considerations that are universally important when preparing your creative output for print design. What seems instinctively or aesthetically pleasing may not always be the best option.

  • Typography

When choosing the right type style for your design, use of complementary type styles is really important. This is about contrast, not conflict, finding font pairings that work well together will help do differentiate your headings from your body copy. The classic rule is sans-serif font for headlines and serif fonts for copy, but that’s by no means set in stone.

designing for print

  • Legibility

Your text obviously needs to be clear and legible so it’s easy to read. Not all fonts are created to be read at small sizes, some fonts are considered useful solely at display sizes.  Play around with different fonts yourself, or utilise the expertise of design services to find the font that best conveys your message and complements your print design.

  • Images

Images are incredibly effective in print design and, along with colour, will be the element that first attracts the reader’s attention. Your use of photography and illustration must be relevant and captivate your audience, without diverting their thoughts away from the point of the piece.

designing for print

  • Layout

Layout concerns the placement of text and image elements within your design. How these elements are positioned, both in relation to each other, and within the overall design scheme, will affect how the content is received by the reader. More creative layouts can add value or embellishment to your piece, whereas understated layout can allow the content to shine.

  • White Space

Clever use of white space can help you to create a clean and legible design, whereas too little space can make the page feel cluttered and chaotic, which can be uneasy on the eye. Finding a good balance between boring and hectic with your use of white space is the trick.

  • Colour

One of the most important factors to consider with print design is your colour scheme.  Colour plays a vital role; it can make a statement, create an atmosphere or evoke an emotional response. Think about colours that will help to communicate what you are trying to say through your print design, decide which colours best represent your brand or message.

designing for print

It’s All about Impact

Whether you want to grab someone’s attention immediately with a billboard or provide them with more detailed information on a flyer, all good print design needs to create an impact. Sometimes a great slogan will achieve this, other times it’s use of a powerful image, but the right combination of these elements will help you to deliver print design and campaigns that have a real impact and generate real results.

For those of us working in branding services, print design will remain as be one of the high-impact forms of advertising, it’s set to remain as an important part of design for years to come.