Do You Know C.R.A.P.? – Proximity

Proxmity is the last principle of design in our funny little acronyn known as C.R.A.P. If you’ve been following my posts you would already know what this is all about but for you late comers, C.R.A.P. stands for the 4 principles of design:





Proxmity is what makes your design “look smart”.  When two or more elements are close together there is an automatic assumption that one is related to the other.  Your viewers will develop an understanding of your message based on how close various elements are to each other.

It’s like writing a paragraph, because as we all know, paragraphs are a group related sentences with a single topic.  An important rule of paragraphs is that you should keep to one idea per paragraph.  This can be translated into the principle of Proxmity.  You want to make sure that your elements that are placed closely to each other are related.  Many times people feel the need to separate elements for the sake of taking up space or trying to create some sort of design.

If we look at the first example I posted when I wrote about Contrast, you’ll notice that the original slide separated all the elements, the title was separated from the subtitle and there was some serious foolishness going on here, take a look:

This slide disregards all every C.R.A.P. principle I’ve addressed over the past 4 slides. Below I applied 3 of the principles by using Contrast through the use of black & white, Repetition in the use of font, Alignment – yes it’s centered which I said was amateurish but in the case of this slide it works, and Proximity notice the time and sub-title are together and the author’s credits are grouped together.

So, now you know C.R.A.P.! Try implementing all 4 principles in your next design project.  Start small and work your way up as you become more confident in your skills.  You might not get it all right the first time, ya know what they say: “Practice Makes Perfect”.


Jennifer Jackson of posted sent me a comment asking whether or not contrast could be achieved with the use of an image.  My reply to this is absolutely, you just have to decide first the purpose of your slide because different purposes would warrant a different design.  I used the black and white example on top just to contrast the “oh so busy” original slide.  The one major thing I’m against is the use of extraneous elements, such as text in the footer, images used just to take up space, and images that really aren’t as relevant as you think.

So as I promised Jennifer, here is sample where I used an image to create contrast.  This particular slide is for a presentation made by a presenter.

This particular slide puts into use all 4 C.R.A.P. principles – you have contrast created by the shadings in the image that flow from dark to light, you have repetition through the repeating towers, alignment in the towers and text, and proximity in the text.  So you can achieve a clearer message and still use the principles without being tacky.

3 Replies to “Do You Know C.R.A.P.? – Proximity”

  1. Myra,
    I understand your C.R.A.P. principle, and I think that it will be very useful to use as an instructional designer. I do wonder, however, if you feel that simply using contrast (in your example black and white) is enough? Or do you feel that the slide could be added to by using visuals and pictures? I know that most people are very visual and images attract their attention if they are applicable to the content. I am wondering if you feel that adding visuals (specifically to your example) would detract from the slide’s message? Thanks for your helpful hints!

    1. Jennifer,
      First thanks for the comment and for following my blog. You pose a really great question. In the example for the contrast post, I shared a slide that made use of contrast through color instead of through pictures. I wanted to, well, contrast the original slide and present something totally different. This is not to say that contrast this is the only way to create contrast. You can definitely create contrast with an image and text, however, you do have to be careful and really think about the purpose of your slide. Is it a slide in a presentation that will be used by a presenter? Is is a slide that will run in a loop in a kiosk? Or is this a component of an elearning module you are creating? or is this going to be some form of printed material? Each situation will warrant a different approach.

      I will add a sample of how contrast can be achieved with an image to the “Contrast” post after I submit this reply.

  2. Reblogged this on CuriouslyBored and commented:
    I came across this blog post, “Do You Know C.R.A.P.? – Proximity” by Myra and thought it a useful reminder for educators and IDs (instructional designers) working on course enhancements for the upcoming fall semester.

    The piece does a good job of explaining and illustrating simple and effective design elements that can help to communicate concepts and ideas clearly.

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