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Graphic Designer's Essential Reference by Timothy Samara

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Defining Clear Visual Hierarchy

Strong composition depends not only on the compositional states of the various elements, but also on how those states contribute to the viewer being able to navigate, or understand, the content, and in what order the content should be “read” (whether in terms of type or purely pictorial content). Defining this order, or hierarchy, and controlling the sequence in which viewers will perceive and assimilate each level of information is an unavoidable process in every design project, no matter how straightforward it is.

In coming to determine the most important element (whether pictorial or typographic), the designer most often relies on common sense by answering the simple question: What do I need to look at first? ...

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