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Lesson 9: Frames and Boxes

Get Creative with Frames, Borders, and Boxes


Go beyond lines and pictures. Frames don’t have to be square boxes with a 2pt black rule frame. Change the shape, the size, the color.

“Write on!” Frames don’t have to be made out of lines. Use text or icons to create a frame. Repeat key words or provide additional information.

Break out of the box. Extend text or graphics outside the frame to add interest and draw attention to the contents.

Blocks of color. Dividing a printed page (or even a Web page) into different colored blocks — with or without borders — is another way to group, set apart, or emphasize the contents of your page. (See the illustration, bottom middle, using a block of color to set apart a sidebar)

The Whole Picture
Consider the concept of the overall design as well as where the piece will appear. On newsprint, avoid very thin lines or intricate designs; they reproduce poorly. If you will be competing with lots of plain frames, use something more unique; or, omit the frame if it will make your ad stand out.

Does the frame complement the text or graphics inside? A border of dancing clowns is obviously inappropriate around an ad for a funeral home. But a thick black border around delicate or script texts might be just as inappropriate.

When using frames to set out information, be consistent. Choose a single style or location or size to use throughout your publication to avoid confusing readers.

The Bottom Line: Use frames in moderation and with purpose. Before adding that second or third frame, box, or border consider alternative ways to group, set apart, or emphasize that information to avoid cluttered pages.

Assignment for the Frames and Boxes Rule

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