Focus on This • Emphasis and the Principles and Elements of Design

Use emphasis to create a focal point, draw attention

Use emphasis to create a focal point
Emphasize text or graphic elements to draw the eye or create a focal point. | Elements of Design | Principles of Design.
Something that is singled out or made more prominent has emphasis. An element of a design that dominates or becomes the center of interest has emphasis.

Within the visual components of a page design, emphasis is applied to individual parts such as a word or phrase by changing its appearance, making it stand out. Sometimes considered a principle of design on its own, emphasis can be created using all of the various elements and principles of design.

Emphasis and the Elements of Design
Create a focal point by making one component of the design more prominent or eye-catching than the others.

  • Line
    In a design composed of horizontal lines, the vertical line becomes the focal point.


  • Shape
    A square stands out from a group of circles or organic shapes.


  • Mass
    The physically or visually heavier element or piece commands more attention.


  • Texture
    Embossing adds tactile interest and emphasis.


  • Color
    A splash of color or a strong change in value in an otherwise gray piece will draw the eye.


Emphasis and the Principles of Design
Use the arrangement of the page components to create a focal point or visual hierarchy of dominant and subordinant elements.

  • Balance
    A perfectly symmetrical piece may have no focal point because each element is equally emphasized. Radial balance generally draws the eye first to the central point in the design.


  • Proximity
    A part of the design that is isolated from other parts can become a focal point.


  • Alignment
    The eye is naturally drawn to a point in or near the center of a page, giving elements in that area perceived importance.


  • Repetition
    Repeating an image or a word can establish its importance.


  • Contrast
    Set words or phrases in a contrasting bold type or italics to give them emphasis.


  • White space
    Use white space to isolate elements and give them emphasis.


    Whether or not classified as a principle of design, emphasis is an important concept that touches on all aspects of graphic design and page composition.


    Get Started:Basic Guidelines and Requirements for Desktop Publishing
    Choose Software:Desktop Publishing and Design Software
    Make Something:Things to Make Using Desktop Publishing
    Tips & Tutorials:How to Do Desktop Publishing
    Training, Education, Jobs:Careers in Desktop Publishing
    In the Classroom:Back to School With Desktop Publishing
    Use Templates:Templates for Print and Web Publishing