What is Proximity?

Plain and simple, proximity is the grouping of related elements on a page. How you choose to group the elements is up to you, but they must have something in common or rather - a relationship. When you think about it, it is something you see every day. You may see it in a business card. We know business cards contain relative contact information about someone, but the placement also communicates that the information does in fact belong together. By placing the information closely together, proximity creates a sense of cohesiveness. And not only does proximity create a relationship between elements, it can also provide the audience with an insight to your overall concept/idea.

Using Proximity

It’s important to know that while it may look aesthetically appealing to place items together in order to create unity, you must know when NOT to group items together. You should never try to group items together that wouldn’t make sense in the first place. Would it make sense to add a sentence about how much I love cheeseburgers in the middle of this paragraph? Obviously not. It’s irrelevant to the topic at hand. Again the target audience needs to be able to recognize what story you are trying to tell. It's also important to note that you can have more than one grouping of items on a single page. Take a look at the layout of this website. There are several item groupings. Yet they each bring the whole page together as one unit.

tutorial icon


Go to the park or your place of choosing, have your pencil and paper ready. Draw out (quality or skill not important) the placement of certain items as seen in perspective to an area big enough to draw out on an 8x10 piece of paper. Decide whether the proximity of these items create a relationship. If not, rearrange these items on the paper as you see fit. You'll start to see soon enough what goes together and what does not. You may find you like how items relative to size look than items with related shapes. Keep doing this wherever you go.

tips/advice icon


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

  • Try not to have too many separate elements on a page. Remember, a few groupings might be necessary.
  • Most importantly, group elements that make sense as a whole. Your target audience must be able to understand your message.
fun facts icon


When you are ready to see what all this talk is about, simply click here to browse through a few examples that illustrate proximity. Remember that once you understand these principles, they can be utilized to express all forms of art.