Feb 12, 2011

Design Basics Part 4: The Repetition Principle

This is the fourth post in the series 'Design Basics' where we are discussing how to make our slides look good. Read the first post here, second here and the third post here. This series is based on Robin Williams' book 'The Non-Designer's Design Book'.

Design Principle #3: Repetition

What does it mean?
Repetition is a simple word which means to repeat. To repeat an element across the design. In our context, it stands for consistency as well. Consistent use of elements (colour, fonts, etc.) on a slide and throughout all slides.

What is the Repetition Principle?
This principle of good design states that we repeat some aspects of the design throughout the presentation. It helps organise information and guides your reader through the presentation.

How to apply this principle?

Here are a few tips to remain consistent throughout the slides

1. Use a template (can be created by you as well) so that the looks across all slides remain the same.
2. Use the same font size across all slides (one size of the header and one for body text).
3. Use the same font type across all slides.
4. Use the same font colour across all slides.
5. Use the same colour scheme for all tables & charts (graphs) across all slides.

Repetition of elements can also be on one slide. To know more see examples below.

Example #1

Look at these three print ads which belong to the same company. Even without reading a word you will know why they belong to the same company.
There is a strong visual connection between all the various ads (which are like slides only). The element of repetition is at work here. This is an extremely helpful tip if you are designing a newspaper ad, a website (inside pages), a brochure or a newsletter.

Example #2

There can be a repetition within the slide as well. Look at this newspaper ad and find out what is being repeated here and how is it affecting the audience?

The element that is being repeated is the colour green. This adds to our definition of the element in the first post. An element on a slide is a text, an image, a combination of text and image or colour of image or text. The green colour which comes at the top and bottom is making sure your eye stays on the slide for more time and it alternates between the top and bottom. This way we spend more time reading the ad.

By now you have understood that these design principles apply as much to slide design as to a newspaper advertisement. We are using newspaper ads as examples only to illustrate the principle. It does not mean our slides should be as full of text as the paper ad above. An ad and a slide are two different forms of communication and have a different purpose.

Example #3

Another example of repetition can be seen in this newspaper ad.

The first three images are similar and the font style is also similar. This is a repetition. This repetition ties these three elements together and brings about unity in design. Had these three images been totally different the unity would have been lost.

I don't find this paper ad very nice but have still used it just to give examples of 'repetition'. In the end, a design will only look good when all the four principles of design come together; contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity.
What more?
Break the rule in the interest of design. You need not follow this principle to such an extent that it gets boring. Break it when you feel so. Take the risk. Breaking this repetition (if done once or twice) will get a lot of attention which can be used to one's advantage.

To read about proximity click here, to read about alignment click here. In the next post, we will understand the fourth principle; contrast.