On color and readability in graphic design

July 4th, 2017 by Bob Bly

Subscriber JA writes:

“Bob, have you noticed how many websites use gray typeface on a
white background?

“It’s difficult to read.

“How about taking a minute to address the importance of color
schemes?”

Entire books have been written about color in design. And I am no
expert in color. Far from it.

But the whole of it can be boiled down to one principle:

The primary purpose of design is to attract the eye to the ad,
and to make the text easy to read — and the latter just as
important as the former.

Anything that makes the copy difficult to read, no matter how
dazzling or creative, is bad graphic design, whether in print or
online.

So at a glance, the color and type rules to follow are these:

1–Make all type large enough to be easy to read for older adults
with average or less-than-average eyesight.

2–The best color scheme is black type on a white background.

3–In body copy, avoid reverse type, which is white type on a
black background.

4–Avoid low-contrast color schemes such as gray type on a white
background, or dark blue type on a light blue background, or the
horrific but not uncommon gray type on a black background.

5–In the body copy for print materials, use serif typefaces —
letters with little extension on them, such as Times Roman.

6–Online, use sans serif typefaces — letters with no extensions,
such as Arial — in body copy.

7–On web pages, subheads can shine and make a statement when you
use an easy-to-read bold serif font such as Georgia bold, for
example, and set them in a darker color to pop off page online
and draw the reader’s eye down the page.

A dark blue looks nice. A deep red or rusty red can also feel
easy-to-read. The color depends on your overall design and what
type of audience and product you are working with.

8–In direct mail, despite what the vendors of handwritten
envelopes and letter mailing say, I have seen no proof that
handwritten outer envelopes or letters outpull typeset. If
handwriting universally outperformed typewritten, everyone would
use it all the time.

Remember, the primary functions of graphic design in advertising
are (a) to attract the reader’s eye and (b) make the copy easy to
read.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 4th, 2017 at 1:33 pm and is filed under General, Writing and the Internet. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 responses about “On color and readability in graphic design”

  1. sabir said:

    Of all the brawl stars hack that we have here this is the best thing you want to generate the chips and gems with.

  2. sarah emi said:

    Being a Logo Designer from Dubai, UAE, I am admiring this post as the color schemes and the way to choose them is the most difficult and time taking work in the Graphics Designing and Animation. The colors if chosen wisely and creatively could empower the brand and icons easily and significantly.

  3. Irfan Ak said:

    My friend was read this book about color in design, your above details are dam true regarding colors & graphic designing, i do work in Toronto web design company & my company follow the design rules, they know how design is important in any sector.

  4. Salman said:

    If we talk about colors & graphic designing, we should know about the basic rules of designing & understanding the art of this work. I also agree with Bob details about colors & design that he mentioned above. I developed my client Houston design company & he was happy with his site color schemes & combination.

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