What is Alignment?

Probably one of the simplest principles to understand is alignment. Alignment is the arrangement of elements on a page that keeps them from being a complete disorderly mess. Aligning elements on a page tightens the design and creates a visual connection between them as a whole. In the real world, we use alignment. Think about it. The roads we use to reach our destinations align to form intersections. Parking lines instruct us where the car should be parked and we all hate it when the car next to the empty parking spot is over the line. We even use alignment standing in line at the coffee house. It’s annoying not being able to figure out where the line starts if people are standing in random places. The same applies in the graphic design world. Without alignment, elements seem to have no sense of direction and they just fall apart. It is important to continuously incorporate this principle in every design you created.

Using Alignment

When using alignment, it is important to distract your audience as little as possible. Aligning elements is often sharp and neat providing a more professional, tight look. Alignment is as simple as arranging items using the automatic align options in your software. Be careful, combining too many different alignments, such as centered, justify, and left-aligned on a page can still create an unorganized look. As long as it serves a purpose, it is best to play it safe and stick with a single align option. Lastly, use guidelines and grids for the more complicated layouts that require precise placement of elements.

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Use whatever designing software you are most comfortable with (Illustrator, Photoshop, Microsoft Word, etc.) With a margin of half an inch all around, insert text (headings, subheadings, paragraphs) and visual content (images, graphics) into the document. Your challenge is to break the text and visual content into columns and use the align options. Try to bring the whole page together in a structured manner. Once you start to experiment, if you notice these invisible lines appearing throughout the page, then you are progressing. Good luck!

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It's quite understandable you want to jump right in and experiment on what you just learned. Slow down and remember the following:

  • Everything on the page should visually have a connection with something else on the page even if it’s align with items that aren’t necessarily close to each other. By doing this you are telling your audience that although some items aren’t close together, they still belong.
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When you are ready to see what all this talk is about, simply click here to browse through a few examples that illustrate alignment. Remember that once you understand these principles, they can be utilized to express all forms of art.