Ask Dr. Design II


Another session with Dr. Design….

Q: I want to use all sorts of spot color on my news pages, but the editor keeps holding me back. She says that spot color cheapens the news. What do you think?

A: I am in love with your editor! The first thing you should do when the idea hits you about using spot color anywhere is to find time to lie down until the thought goes away.

If you still have the thought when you get up, here’s what you do:

1. Remember that red is the most powerful spot color. Use it sparingly. Think of it as the handkerchief in the
chest pocket, not a red sport coat.

2. Try to put color on elements, not on background. In other words, avoid color screens under type. Instead, use color on maps, graphics, clip art.

3. Avoid pastels. They tend to look like Easter eggs. That would certainly cheapen the news.

4. Don’t ever use color in your headlines.

5. To quote my grandpappy: “There ain’t no need for a coloring book on my news. It makes more sense in black and white.”

If you can’t nap, those are layout words to live by.

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It was the winter of 1994, and I put up my first news design site at According to some estimates, that made it one of the first 10,000 sites in web history. Makes me feel old. If you need advice with your design work, let me know. I would be happy to help. You can contact me by e-mail  (bobatnewsdesignschooldotcom)  .

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