Hierarchy & Grid

Power and Structure – they can do a world of good….

In the case of hierarchy, a clear delineation of power can help the reader sort through information. Hierarchy, as used in visual design, essentially is the order of importance in the depiction of information. As described in our textbook, Graphic Design the New Basics, “visual hierarchy controls the delivery and impact of the message.” This can be done using clear delineation between levels, page layout, changing size and color of font, placement on the page, organization of images in relation to lettering, background colors (balanced with the absence of), etc… because without depiction of hierarchy, the information can be confusing. It’s the designer’s job to organize information, and the use of effective hierarchical presentation can make the reader’s job easier. It can also guide the reader in the direction you want them to go.

playing with power

As in this example to the left, the title draws the most attention due to size, placement and bold lettering, and if the image in the center were color, if would be the first attraction…. then the eye glances over at the grey square of text, and finally to the BOLD title and the article iself.

Below are some examples of visual organization, from pg 123, of Universal Principles of Design (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, Rockport Publishers, 2003)

Trees, Nests, Stairs

Typography in its various contexts can play into hierarchy easily. Sizes, colors, whether it’s italicized, bold or regular, font, etc all play different roles in the power structure of a design.

In the example down below, where does your eye go?

In the case of the grid, it is essentially a structured field that helps organize the information/content in margins, columns, squares or circles, or at least organized visual chunks that can create a pattern that the reader can follow easily.

The two of them, hierarchy and grid, often work well together.


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