Being able to design beautiful presentation your writing is critical. There are a lot of things to learn and focus on, but using the basic elements easier than you think. You can see them, but naming them is the power. Here is an example I threw together to help you learn exactly what you can do to make your writing stand out!
The principles that we will mainly focus are on constant and contrasting at the same time, but we’ll go into the others like alignment and proximity.
This first image is the cover for this magazine cover. There are several things in this image that show how to use good design principles. I used this article from LDS.org as the article words. I did not write this. But I did take the images and make the layout. This first one will be: contrast and consistency.
Color: We used three basic colors here using yellow, blue, and orange from the color wheel. We got these colors from the image itself. Using a color dropper, we were able to pick out the colors. Yellow for the contrast (and from an image we use later that you’ll see it a bit), blue from the sky, and the orange is a brighter, most spring like color from the brick of the building. This can make doing a color theme easy. You can also look up ideas online, but I find using your image easier.
Type: For the title we used two different fonts to contrast one another. The top one is a script font, and the second is a serif font. We also changed the size a bit to add further contrast. There also is a serif font for the pull quote to be consistent, but we used a different one to make it less flowing and straighter.
These two sheets are our main body. There are several things we can spot here that are good and helpful to use. We can see more contrast with different shapes and using the warmer colors to stand out (note the yellow and orange) and we used size once again for the three section headers as well as a new font. We also tried to keep consistency by making the font types match but also be different. The pull quote uses the same font as the page before so it’s all constant as well as keeping the color theme. (You can also see the yellow flowers in these image that help make it stand out.
Alignment: With these columns, everything is justified to the left (because most magazines work with that layout, but not all. See if you can see a few the next time you pick up a good magazine). The images follow a similar pattern or go between the columns but always keeping their heading on the left.
Proximity: We can also see how pieces that go together are close together, nothing use to note here, but the paragraphs are kept close to their heading pieces. We also aren’t afraid of keeping things far enough apart that they’re easy to read. Crowded text makes it hard to read (like when there are just too many bullet points in a power point). It’s alright to let the words and reader breathe a bit. This can be trick to get down, but trust your eyes and the rules and they’ll help you get there. You’ll also see that heading size and color match. This gives contrast the main text, but also constancy so we know those are headers. It also tells us they are related.
These are just basic tools you can use to help your writing stand out. All the images used were taken by me and the design was made in Adobe InDesign. The text used was from an article from LDS.org (click on the link to see the original article).
How Do You Know Where to Go
What helped me decide everything for this post was thinking of who this post was for. My intended audience was that of those struggling to get through the grief of losing a loved one. These people often are looking for hope so look for the bright colors (I thought like the spring theme) or feel sad so lean to dark colors (I used dark blue). Also the use of a building that symbolizes hope was meant to draw their attention. So once I knew what audience I had I knew what themes I needed, and theme gave me everything else. I’ve already explained that I choose the colors off the images I used, but why those images? As a writer, you likely already know what feeling you want to portray with your words, so to pick images just find the images that share the same message. This piece is equating getting through the loss of a loved one with braving a harsh winter hoping for Spring again. So I choose spring images (the flowers) and a place of hope (an LDS temple, in fact this is the Provo City, Utah temple with its own story of hope. Follow these link to learn more; Article 1 and Article 2).
The thing that helped me pick it all was theme. One thing led to the other: the temple symbolized hope so I used its colors to make a scheme. After getting blue and yellow, we went to a color wheel to find a good match and found the brown on the temple brick worked well to get a brownish/orange color. The flowers of spring led us to want to find a flowing header font which helped us contrast it with a sans font, and straight leanings to contrast its flowing script.
It all comes down to theme and remembering your three main tools: alignment, proximity, contrast, and consistency. I hope this example has given you an idea of how simple it is to make beautiful layouts for your writing. If you have any questions on how this is done in InDesign or have other questions please use the contact form to send them to me, and I’ll get back to you. Happy designing!