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Speaking & Writing Centers can help

General Design


The principles of CRAP are Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. These principles are some of the most effective communicative tools you have as a digital rhetor, so it’s important to understand what and how they’re communicating. 

Contrast is first and can be as simple as making sure the color of your text and your background in your project are different enough that you can read the content. It can also be more complex, encompassing things like the tone of the images you use in a video. Be careful to contrast without clashing.

Repetition is exactly what it sounds like, and it is deceptively important. Just by repeating the same font type and size, or a snippet of audio throughout a project, you send a message, and that message is: these elements are linked together. That’s an important message for your audience, and repetition is one of the tools you have to communicate with them.

Alignment provides the invisible organizing axes on the landscape of your digital project, and it’s especially important for “flatter” digital projects, like PowerPoints and e-portfolios. 

Proximity, which is the distance or lack thereof between the elements of your project, is equally important to organization and communication.  Regardless of format, the close proximity of two or more elements indicates connection, with separation indicating the opposite.   

The 3 Cs

There’s also the 3 Cs, which are Consistency, Concision, and Appropriate Style Choices. All these elements work together, along with repetition from CRAP, to keep your audience engaged and your project successful. It’s important that you don’t add upbeat music to a podcast on a serious news event or choose fuschia and lime green for the color scheme of your website when making a digital portfolio. Doing either makes it look like you didn’t consider the tone of your project.

Concision is key as well, since it shows that you didn’t just copy and paste from an earlier assignment, but actually did the work during the remediation process to adapt your content to a Power Point, Podcast, Video, etc. 

Font & Color Guidelines

There are two major font families, serif and sans serif. For web-based projects and STEM classes, sans serif is the standard, but for the Humanities, serif fonts might be more appropriate.

When thinking about color, never forget that contrast and readability are the most important considerations. It doesn’t matter how aesthetically pleasing light yellow is for your project if your audience can’t read it. Also remember that a color palette should consist of 2-5 colors and no more. Too much color can be overwhelming, as is certain combinations of colors. Check out these resources for more color guidance.

Image Guidelines

The quality of your images is the most important consideration. They should be no smaller than 1920 x 1080 in order to avoid pixilation. Some good open source image resources are Pixabay and Unsplash. These resources are VERY useful, because citation guidelines apply to images as well as text, so you can’t copy and paste from Google Images.

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