Design Rules You Should Never Break (Part 1)

Design Rules You Should Never Break (Part 1)

Just like any other discipline, Graphic design too comes with some rules.  Sometimes, it is the need of the hour to break certain design rules or guidelines to reach out to peaks of creativity. But this doesn’t appear to be very pleasing every time. Hence, in this article today we will be going through some tips, tricks and advises one must keep in mind to have a good design all over.

  1. Kerning

    Design Rules You Should Never Break

    Source: 99designs

Kerning is basically the adjustment of space between characters of your type. It doesn’t sound like a big issue, but a good kerning job can make a lot of difference. The goal of kerning is to ensure that the space between each letter of your typeface is visually even in order to obtain a neat and orderly piece of text.


  1. Check for Readability

    Design Rules You Should Never Break

    Source: TPI Solutions Ink

A number of reasons can affect how much effort your reader has to put in to read a piece of text. A common example of a mistake in readability is too low of a contrast between the text and background. Another common mistake is the overuse of capital letters; this obstructs the eye’s ability to distinguish letterforms. This is because when executed in caps, each letter has the same x-height and block-like shape, whereas, in lowercase, the letterforms are more uniquely shaped, allowing for the eye to more easily identify each letter and word.

Yet another mistake is type size. Keeping some very small type will make the readers stress on their eye which causes strain.

  1. Shorter Line Lengths

    Design Rules You Should Never Break

    Source: designschool.canva

Badly structured line lengths are a common mistake and this is why we are discussing Design Rules You Should Never Break! The golden number for body copy line lengths is a minimum of six words per line and an average of about 30-40 characters (including spaces) on each line. Any less and your sentences will be too choppy, any more and you risk your sentences becoming tedious and difficult for the eye to get through.

  1. Create a Neat Hierarchy

    Design Rules You Should Never Break

    Source: blog.bufferapp

Hierarchy, in a design, is the arrangement of visual elements in order to signify importance. So, the more important elements are made to hold the most attention through scale, color, type etc. and the least important elements are given less attention. An element that hierarchy is most evidently used in is typography. Do take care of the typography in your design elements.


  1. Having an Appropriate Word Spacing

    Design Rules You Should Never Break

    Source: Adobe Support

There are two main points of word spacing: tracking and leading.

Leading: It is the adjustment of space between vertical lines of type. Longer line lengths often require a bit more leading than shorter line lengths.

Tracking:  When you have a large body of text, there often isn’t time to manually adjust each space, which is where tracking comes in handy. The tracking tool adjusts the space between characters and words in a more general way than kerning.

Another rule for word spacing is, for smaller bodies that are more reasonable to manually alter, a common practice is to imagine a lowercase ‘i’ in between each word and adjust your space accordingly, but of course, this all depends on the typeface and the situation etc.

  1. Use the Correct Alignment

    Design Rules You Should Never Break

    Source: designschool.canva

There are four different kinds of alignment: left aligned, right aligned, centered and justified. Left alignment is the most common form. It’s the most easily readable and gives a nice and neat left edge to the text.

Right aligned type aligns the text to the right. This is mostly used for decorative purposes within branding. Right alignment isn’t recommended for large chunks of text, though as it can get hard for the eye to follow, the frayed left edge makes it slightly more difficult to find a new line.

Centered text definitely has a wide variety of uses; posters, invitations, branding etc. Centered text makes it easy to balance out a bit of type and make for a visually pleasing type arrangement. However, again, it’s not recommended for larger bodies of a type as the lack of a neatly aligned edge makes it tricky for the eye to move from one line to the next hence decreases readability.

Lastly, the justified type. It can be unreliable, as it seems like the perfect alignment module. In some cases justified type looks great while on the other hand when we talk of spacing, the justify tool will spread the type awkwardly from left to right, leaving an inept word and letter spacing.

Using a correct alignment for your text is a point in Design Rules You Should Never Break.

  1. Always Use A Grid

    Design Rules You Should Never Break

    Source: Pinterest

A well-implemented grid is a must; it can transform your design from something average to something clean, clear and effective. Grids come in many shapes and sizes and you can build them to be flexible, adaptable and to suit your design. Grids help designers align elements on the page in relation to each other which often produces a neater, more logical design.

The fewer columns your grid has, the more uniform your design will be. Play around with a few different grids and find what works for you and your design.

  1. Consider Your Audience

Design Rules You Should Never Break

Source: designschool.canva

Every design has an intended audience, the people that will be viewing the design and receiving the communication, so it makes sense to keep them in mind. A bright and colorful design with recognizable graphics is more eye-catching and keeping in tune with the demographic and event. Remember that while your design may look good, it might not be the best possible communication for your audience.

  1. Avoid Typographical Widows And Orphans

    Design Rules You Should Never Break

An easy way to take your design from amateurish to polished and professional is to recognize and eliminate typographical widows and orphans.

Now, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept of widows and orphans, a widow is a term for a line of text that belongs to a paragraph and has moved over to the next column. An orphan is similar, but a single word on its own on a line, poor little thing.

There are a few ways you can deal with widows and orphans. First, you can manually edit the text to adjust the line length to remove the problem altogether.

  1. Having a Logical Color Palette

    Design Rules You Should Never Break

    Source: designschool.canva

A color is a powerful tool for designers, so it makes sense that a carefully arranged and consistent palette would be an important step in all design events.

When compiling a color palette, it might be worth looking into color theory and past uses of color. Color theory tells that certain colors have certain effects on consumers, i.e. orange is thought to stimulate hunger, which is why orange is a commonly used in fast food designs.


While switching things up sometimes can pay off, be sure to make educated moves when experimenting with color. There are certain codes and conventions when it comes to color, be sure that your use of color isn’t too distracting or confuses your message.


These were some of the Design Rules You Should Never Break. This article is divided into two parts, of which this holds the first part and shall follow. Hope the rules will help you out in making and understanding your design on a more advanced level.

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