Alignment is an extension of proximity. It has to do with placing items so that they line up. Alignment is a concept that produces both grouping and organizes information to create order.
Alignment is vitally important in print graphic design because:
- it helps balance your image so that it’s visually appealing,
- it creates a visual connection between related elements,
- poor alignment can also throw a design off balance.
Finding the “invisible line”
Alignment (like the name suggests) is all about organizing elements relative to a line or margin. This doesn’t have to be a literal line in your design; in fact, it’s usually an invisible margin implied by the way your design is arranged.
The two basic alignment principles are edge alignment and center alignment. Each is essentially a different way of utilizing an invisible line.
Edge alignment naturally positions elements against a margin that matches up with their outer edges. This is a quite common technique; even this very article uses edge alignment to keep the text flush against the left margin.
Center alignment places design elements so that they line up with one another on their center axes. Technically every shape has a center axis (though they’re generally easiest to judge on simple, regular shapes).
Note that this doesn’t always mean that elements are placed in the horizontal center of the page. You can place shapes side-by-side or diagonally oriented and still align them on their center axes.
Don’t do the design equivalent of making viewers want to straighten a crooked picture on a wall — don’t let unbalanced elements or alignment that is a little “off” distract from your design and its message.
Symmetry is one of the biggest contributors to a balanced design. A symmetrical design is equally balanced on both sides of a central axis, either vertically, horizontally, or radially (radiating, usually circularly, out from a central point). The human brain finds symmetry attractive, but besides being aesthetically pleasing, a balanced design also has a practical purpose: it helps you establish a hierarchy for your layout and prioritize your content.