THIS POST GETS PRETTY GRAPHIC…
Lots of people face the challenge of building presentations on a daily basis without an understanding of how to make the presentation look great. For some, hiring a designer isn’t always an option for smaller projects.
While I strongly encourage you to seek out a professional designer’s help as often as you can for projects (maybe I’m biased?), I want to be sure that for times when you have to plow through projects alone, you’re equipped with some information to help you succeed. Graphic design can say a lot about your business/organization and its professionalism so here are a few pro design basics that will help you create clean looking designs.
What the font? Choosing the right font for your project can push you over the edge from informative to interesting. There are four basic categories for fonts. Mix two in your document and leave it at that (i.e. one for headers & charts, and one for body copy). Never more than three fonts in any one project is a general rule of thumb.
When it’s more than two pages, it’s generally held that a serif font is the way to go. Then again, rules are bendable. Most programs have decent settings to separate the font size for headlines, and paragraph text. Always think of your audience when setting the size of the font, as legibility requirements can differentiate depending on your reader. I like 10-11 pt font for body copy in print.
Colour me happy! Colour harmony is a great tool to have in your design belt. The right colour scheme will set the tone for your project, and keep the reader engaged. There are lots of amazing colour combination sites to help you with your colour scheme. Tactfully choose a combination that suits your project.
Basic colour combinations are all pulled from the colour wheel. If you haven’t seen one before, complementary, analogous, and triad colour combinations are all basic colour harmonies.
Drop the drop shadow. The right font and colour combination will be all of the ‘pizazz’ your document needs. Using outlines/strokes on text, and drop shadows in a professional presentation is akin to wearing a Wonder Woman costume to a job interview. There are very, very few occasions where it’s acceptable.
Little Orphan Annie. Try to write your paragraphs so that the last word is all alone on a line by itself (Orphan). Also, it’s awkward when the last line of a paragraph from the previous page sits all alone on top of the next page (Widow).
These are just a few tools that you can keep in your pocket for the next time you’re stuck building a power point, document, report, or staff birthday poster!