If possible, place graphics in the middle of the page, with text above and below. If you have some skill in layout and the graphic is appropriate, position text on one side or on both sides of the graphic. Be careful – the page may end up looking cluttered and confused. When in doubt, don’t wrap text around graphics:
Tell the reader just what it is that they are looking at. If there is more than one graphic, use a numbering system.Place numbering and labelling at the top of the graphic. Labels, headlines or captions are usually placed outside the structure of graphics, or they may be placed inside for effect.
- Cite the source of your data. Tell your reader where your figures and pictures come from.
- Try and keep your colours to a maximum of five per graphic, especially when working with more basic printing equipment and lower quality paper stock (subtle differentiations of colour will be difficult under these conditions).
- Be aware that different colours send different messages to some people – red connotes vibrancy for some, danger for others and insolvency for a third group. Blue may connote restfulness, coldness and institutional impersonality.
- If you are communicating with people from outside your home culture, enquire as to what messages different colours send within that culture – you might be surprised.
- Try to avoid red-green patterns – for example, red background / green text. Colour blind viewers will have trouble with such combinations.
- Check to see that a colour graphic still makes sense in black and white. This will make the graphic more versatile (if budget changes disallow colour, then you can still run it in monochrome) and black and white copies of your work can be made by others without distorting the message.