Adobe Education
Educators and Professional Development Specialists

Design principles

Lesson Plan Published 11/11/13 Last updated on 6/10/19
Designers use design principles to evaluate and inform the consistency and visual hierarchy of their design. Put into action, design and typographic principles, can then be used to make sure designs reach an intended target audience and/or meet the goals of a company or individual. Use this activity to introduce the how to use design principles and typography so students can evaluate and inform their designs.
Age Levels
1+ Day
Custom Standards
ACA Dreamweaver 2.3; ACA Photoshop 2.2, 2.3; ACA Premiere Pro 2.3; ACA Flash Professional 2.2; ACA Illustrator 2.1, 2.3, 2.4; ACA InDesign 2.2, 2.3, 2.4
Communication and Collaboration
CC License
Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike
5 / 5 • 72 Ratings

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Comments (98)

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Posted on 10/29/19 8:10:04 AM Permalink

​Thank you for sharing

Denby Weller

Posted on 10/25/19 12:13:43 AM Permalink

​That PPT is awesome, thank you!

Martina Reilly

Posted on 10/8/19 11:03:54 AM Permalink

Great presentation

Thanks for sharing​

Elizabeth Switzler

Posted on 10/4/19 10:41:35 PM Permalink


Hulda Black

Posted on 10/1/19 11:48:06 PM Permalink

Thank you for sharing - great PPT to start with. ​

Mark Woszczalski

Posted on 9/30/19 2:14:37 PM Permalink

​Thank you for this, will definitely use it in our classes.

Leah Bratcher

Posted on 9/29/19 10:51:37 PM Permalink

This is so helpful! Thank you​


Posted on 9/26/19 3:38:40 AM Permalink

​Thank you.

Lia L

Posted on 9/18/19 12:33:03 PM Permalink

Thank you! :)

Hayly Hext

Posted on 9/11/19 5:41:19 PM Permalink

​Wow!! Thank you so much

Alper Ciftci

Posted on 9/7/19 1:45:42 PM Permalink

Thank you​

emmanuel monteiro

Posted on 9/3/19 12:10:35 AM Permalink

​amazing, thank you

TD Wright

Posted on 8/19/19 2:12:18 PM Permalink

Thank you.​

Percy Ordonez

Posted on 8/18/19 11:49:37 PM Permalink

Great resources. Thank you for sharing​

Darren McCrae

Posted on 8/15/19 3:56:41 PM Permalink

​Excellent! Thank you!

Alper Ciftci

Posted on 7/10/19 7:22:41 AM Permalink


Michael Perkins

Posted on 6/26/19 5:36:21 AM Permalink

​Wow this will be of significant assistance with my upcoming lesson!!

Ma. Mercedes Buendia

Posted on 6/18/19 7:59:55 AM Permalink

​Nice material for educations students!


Posted on 6/3/19 5:36:59 PM Permalink

I learned a lot of things that I did not know very well thank you very much

Eduardo Gonzalez

Posted on 5/28/19 4:20:32 PM Permalink

very helpful, really great resources, definitely an instructive resource, Thank you very much!

Cortez William

Posted on 5/19/19 6:44:23 AM Permalink

​This is definitely an instructive resource. The intended target audiences will be covered based on the design principles that suit them.

Mervin Go

Posted on 5/16/19 8:06:07 AM Permalink

Informative and very helpful indeed. Thanks!​

Lisa Klifunis

Posted on 5/11/19 6:31:49 AM Permalink

​Some really great resources, I love having all the basic typography concepts in one handy document. Thanks for sharing!

Stoyanka Veselinova

Posted on 4/3/19 1:26:29 PM Permalink

​Thank you very much !

Ayman Raafat

Posted on 3/31/19 7:01:27 AM Permalink

​thanks for the great material

Carly Manhart

Posted on 3/21/19 7:09:55 AM Permalink

​Wow, I am so thrilled I just found this. My own version of all the resources will definitely be making an appearance in my classroom right after spring break.

Aaron Kapala

Posted on 3/20/19 9:39:51 PM Permalink

​This is great thanks

Ali Imam Reza

Posted on 3/20/19 2:42:02 PM Permalink


Mihai Zahiu

Posted on 3/12/19 4:57:29 PM Permalink

​* amazing

Nursyazreen Aqilah

Posted on 3/12/19 4:11:09 AM Permalink

Thank you!​

Amiera Anuaar

Posted on 3/12/19 2:03:24 AM Permalink

​Thanks for sharing :)

Amirul Ikram

Posted on 3/12/19 1:57:56 AM Permalink

Really good content.

Nur Nabilah Syakila Noruddin

Posted on 3/12/19 1:57:09 AM Permalink

​Thank you!

Luis Garcia

Posted on 3/9/19 12:51:07 AM Permalink

​Excellent resource.

Jack Knoebber

Posted on 3/7/19 6:57:55 PM Permalink

This is a great resource for teaching beginners. Love it!

roldan a

Posted on 3/2/19 12:37:22 AM Permalink


Anne C Smith

Posted on 2/19/19 7:22:44 AM Permalink

​Thank you!

Francisco Antonio Tadeo Nunez Espinal

Posted on 2/13/19 7:25:58 PM Permalink

Estos cursos están en español?

Jessica Gauci

Posted on 2/13/19 7:06:52 AM Permalink

Excellent resource. Thank you for sharing!

Greg Gralf

Posted on 2/11/19 4:53:17 PM Permalink

​Very useful resource when you start learning designing.

Kenya Jeffers

Posted on 2/4/19 12:29:38 AM Permalink

Thank you for sharing.​

Doug Jeans

Posted on 2/2/19 12:19:36 AM Permalink

​Great resource! Thanks for sharing.

yvette Worboys

Posted on 1/30/19 9:28:32 AM Permalink

Thanks for sharing these!​

Craig Daalmeijer-Power

Posted on 1/29/19 12:03:09 PM Permalink

​These are very useful for fundamental concepts of design

Silvia DAgruma

Posted on 1/23/19 2:32:59 PM Permalink

​Thank you for sharing! :)

sufi ahmed

Posted on 1/16/19 6:42:51 PM Permalink

​Thanks. This is very useful.

Olsen Ross

Posted on 1/10/19 8:14:13 PM Permalink

​Thanks for posting these!

Lona U

Posted on 1/2/19 8:41:50 AM Permalink

​Thank you for sharing:)

Fonacier Balatero , Jr.

Posted on 12/7/18 3:35:07 AM Permalink

Thank you for sharing. This is very useful.

uttam kumar

Posted on 12/3/18 7:31:38 AM Permalink

Very useful resource.. Thank you for sharing

Abraham Okpo

Posted on 11/14/18 4:53:31 PM Permalink

​thanks nice materials

Nyein Min Myat

Posted on 11/10/18 5:18:36 AM Permalink

​Thanks for sharing! :)

Shannon Bourne

Posted on 10/23/18 2:15:43 AM Permalink

​This is fantastic-thanks so much for sharing!

Keenan Sultanik

Posted on 10/11/18 8:15:11 PM Permalink

​What a great resource! Thank you for sharing!

Robert Bourgeois

Posted on 9/30/18 12:13:40 PM Permalink


Joanne Hall

Posted on 9/30/18 3:26:11 AM Permalink

Thank you​

Katharine Sargent

Posted on 8/22/18 6:51:39 PM Permalink

​I've used earlier versions of this material for a long time to introduce principles of design to my web design students. Thank you.

Gayle Payne

Posted on 8/19/18 10:06:45 PM Permalink

Thanks. Thats great.​

Armando Viera

Posted on 8/17/18 7:13:34 AM Permalink

Thanks for sharing the educational materials​.

Anna Cherylle Ramos

Posted on 8/16/18 8:28:24 AM Permalink

Very useful for instructional materials development.​

Avonn Nova

Posted on 8/16/18 1:43:53 AM Permalink

​Thank you for sharing.

Siobhán Murphy

Posted on 8/15/18 11:56:57 PM Permalink

​Thank you for sharing!

Aziz Soubai

Posted on 6/20/18 10:45:34 PM Permalink

​Thanks for sharing these great resources

Paul Cifone

Posted on 6/5/18 12:10:18 AM Permalink

​These PDF's are perfect for the Creative Digital Media Course i am teaching...thank you!!

Percy Ordonez

Posted on 4/4/18 8:21:59 PM Permalink

​Thank you for putting all these information together.

Freddy Torres Vega

Posted on 2/15/18 6:31:26 PM Permalink

​Great resources thank you Adobe!


Posted on 6/15/17 12:39:59 AM Permalink

​Thank you for this wonderful resource. Although I have been teaching for a while, I am a newbie when it comes to DreamWeaver.

I am studying to teach Web Authoring using DreamWeaver for the ACA Certification. My students (high schoolers) do not have any Photoshop, Design, or HTML/CSS background. How much Photoshop or other Adobe programs do you think they should be familiar with in order to succeed? I am looking through your curriculum, and am trying to figure out if I should only be focusing on those units that have a "DW" icon next to it?

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Sir Shafiq

Posted on 4/22/17 9:28:03 PM Permalink


Thabiso Mofokeng

Posted on 2/3/17 9:35:56 PM Permalink

Hi Adobe Education,

Thanks for the great tutorial. Do you know a good book I can use for my Principles of Design class?



Jessica Sawchuk

Posted on 9/10/16 2:25:20 PM Permalink

Sorry, these are the elements I am using.







Jessica Sawchuk

Posted on 9/10/16 2:04:13 PM Permalink

I'm a little confused. In my readings and research I find different elements and principles that should be taught in an intro to Graphic Design class. I was going to teach these:





Gestalt Theory






Figure and Ground


I looked through the powerpoint provided and found hardly any of these. But then I found the review sheet that had some of them. Is there an across the board expectation of what high school teachers should be teaching their students? I can't seem to find any consistency and I am feeling not sure about the common language.

Sylvan Adams

Posted on 8/5/16 6:31:18 PM Permalink

thank you!

Julie ODell

Posted on 7/26/16 2:44:05 AM Permalink

Great resource. Thanks

Jennifer Keith

Posted on 7/26/16 12:34:07 AM Permalink

This was a great resource for my web-design class.

Greatly Appreciated!

Salheddine Boumaraf

Posted on 10/17/15 10:46:05 AM Permalink

Great resources, thank's.

sergio durre irizar

Posted on 9/21/15 11:23:11 AM Permalink

Hello all,

I'm quite new participating in this community. I'm trying to prep for the ACA in Visual Communication using Photoshop.

I was about to start the "Project 1" / Design Principles topic, but link appears to be broken or moved... I performed a search and landed here... Would this be the correct alternative to stay in subject matter for the ACA exam prep?

Thank you very much and have a Great Day!

Adobe Education

Posted on 9/22/15 2:41:50 PM Permalink

Yes - this is appropriate. Can you send an email to with the link where you say it's broken or moved so we can look into that further.

The AEE Team

sergio durre irizar

Posted on 9/22/15 5:55:21 PM Permalink

Thank you for your answer :)

Ok I'll do this right away... I can also tell you by the way that several links on other documents (or what appear to be linked content) are broken too, can't remember exactly which ones as I'm getting a lot of confusion navigating my way through link and documents.

Talking of which, I wanted to ask about the ACA with Photoshop path... After trying to navigate through a lot of pages and links, what I thought was the correct Syllabus, "starting point" / "preparation hub", for ACA with Photoshop: ACA in VISUAL COMMUNICATION using Photoshop, I could only end here: ACA in VISUAL DESIGN (Visual Design: Foundations of Design and Print Production, here's the link:, which does not seem to align -completely- with another info source like the one contained in the following link's PDF file: ... Which link, by the way has yet another different title: Adobe Certified Associate in Visual Design using Adobe Photoshop CC (2015) objectives.

Sorry for the "messy message", but to me it's a mess itself. To put it really short:

I understood that in order to get ACA certification with Photoshop I had to choose:

ACA in Visual COMMUNICATION using Photoshop

And along the way, info, website pages, references etc... transform and end up being defined as:

ACA in Visual DESIGN using Photoshop, and / or, ACA in Visual Design: Foundations of Design and Print production.

I can't even remember from where or how I ended up in this last syllabus Title / hub, but it seems to be the only Syllabi page where one end's up after being taken "all over" the place in Adobe and Adobe Education Exchange, but again, it does confuse me about being in the correct starting point or not.

Don't get me wrong, I am super excited and grateful for the opportunities you offer to be a certified professional, but in my humble (and maybe ignorant) opinion, User Experience in Adobe's Certification and Education Exchange can be very, very messy and confusing.

Any and either ways, I am determined to fight my way through to get appropriately Certified, and can't be thankful enough for this opportunity you offer.

Have a great day!

Adobe Education

Posted on 9/23/15 3:24:10 PM Permalink

Hi Sergio,

Sorry for all your confusion. The ACA Objectives ( are what you need to know in order to successfully pass the ACA Photoshop exam.

The Visual Design: Foundations of Design and Print Production ( is a year long curriculum that teaches Project Management, Research, Communication, Design, and Technical Skills in Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator and is aligned to the ACA exams for all those products.

If you are only interested in the ACA Photoshop exam I would recommend the Preparing for the ACA Visual Communication Using Adobe Photoshop Exam syllabus ( as it focuses only on the Photoshop portions of the overall Visual Design Curriculum. Additionally, to help you so you don't have to click through to all the various resources and get lost, I would recommend downloading all of the material, including technical guides, by clicking on "Syllabus Bundle" in the upper right corner. This will get you all of the material needed to prepare for the ACA Photoshop exam. To help you understand why it seems "messy" we broke up the curriculum into projects and activities so students and teachers could use al of it or just smaller pieces that suit their teaching and learning needs.

I would also recommend using study guide available here:

Finally if you search "ACA Photoshop" it will help you narrow down rescues that will help you with your exam preparation.

I hope this makes sense and I hope this is what you were looking for.

The AEE Team

sergio durre irizar

Posted on 9/23/15 3:44:39 PM Permalink

Thank you so much!!!

I'm sorry to be a bit "clumsy", all of this can be disorienting as I'm kind of a newcomer here... You have helped me so much by providing links and explanations!

Now I have a clearer picture.

So a couple last questions would be:

My "immediate" goal is to head towards an ACE certification in Photoshop, but I am very interested in this "Visual Design" curriculum. Would it make sense to get first Photoshop ACA certified, then eventually Photoshop ACE certified ; and following study the Visual Design Curriculum in order to get ACA in Visual Design?

Do you actually get certified in "Visual Design" as a "Whole" or just in the different software (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign) used separately?

Is there an ACE certification for "Visual Design" too, or again it's a matter of "individually" getting certified by software?

I hope what I'm asking makes sense to you, and again thank you so very much for helping out!

Have a Great Day!

Adobe Education

Posted on 9/24/15 2:18:15 PM Permalink

Hi Sergio

Please don't apologize - it can be overwhelming when you're first getting to know all the various curriculums, projects, and such. I'm glad we helped.

You don't get certified in Visual Design as a whole, but the individual software, however the career path of Visual Design is really for someone wanting to work in Graphic Design, hence why we group it together in one curriculum to teach the various product skills concurrently and how they work together to create a whole project - which often time you will be doing in the real world.

In terms of plotting out your pathway you can take a look at this document to help you determine the best certification pathway for you:

Additionally there have been several discussions on ACA and ACE on EdEX already. I would visit those discussions and perhaps ask for advice from other members as they are a wealth of knowledge. Here are a few:,,, and

All the best as you get certified.

The AEE Team

sergio durre irizar

Posted on 9/24/15 2:45:34 PM Permalink

:) Thank you again Adobe EdEx Team,

What can I say: The Gentleness, Care, Politeness, Promptness, Patience that you have shown in dedicating time to help this newcomer makes it way up for the eventual confusion I've gone through.

I say it from the heart and my humble experience: You are perhaps the first Support / Community Management Staff of anywhere I've participated (and believe me I'm ALL OVER the place in the Internet :D) that demonstrates professionalism BEYOND COMPARE.

I feel so taken care of, taken into account I almost feel cuddled by my family haha. It really warms my heart and motivates me to keep around (besides of course the efficiency you demonstrated solving my problems)

Have a wonderful day, and thank you, from the heart!

Bunnie Craddock

Posted on 8/7/15 4:35:36 PM Permalink

Tyler Dockery

Posted on 7/19/15 8:47:41 PM Permalink

When I click "download all" only 2 documents are included...

Adobe Education

Posted on 7/27/15 5:04:06 PM Permalink

This issue has been fixed. You should now see all 5 files when you download the zip file of the resource bundle.

Angela Blair

Posted on 10/8/14 4:40:53 PM Permalink

No, I downloaded it fine and unzipped it, but when I try to open it I get an error that says: PowePoint found a problem with the content in design_principles_preso.ppt. PowerPoint can attempt to repair the presentation. If you trust the source of this presentation, click Repair.
So I click Repair, then I get another error that says there was an error accessing the file. Is it possible for you to email it to me? as an attachment, it's just the PPT that I can't open.

Adobe Education

Posted on 10/8/14 6:03:27 PM Permalink

Very strange. Thank you for informing us and our apologies for the problems. We've sent you the PPT.

The AEE Team

Angela Blair

Posted on 10/7/14 5:48:34 PM Permalink

I cannot open the PowerPoint(s) for the design principles? I get an error to "repair" but it still doesn't work...

Adobe Education

Posted on 10/8/14 3:22:54 PM Permalink

HI Angela,

I just tested and didn't have any problem. Is it downloading to your computer and the problem is then opening it, or is it not downloading?

The AEE Team

Peter Crass

Posted on 7/2/14 3:55:08 PM Permalink

Great material, thank you so much, now I can work preparing a nice presentation for my students with a focus in design principles...

Leslie Bendt

Posted on 6/9/14 8:56:16 PM Permalink

I struggle with your approach to Design Principles and Design Elements. The design principles you list in the worksheet are not uniquely addressed in the presentation as individual principles. To further confuse our students, the presentation opens with design elements. Honestly, when these critical concepts are being introduced for the first time, especially to high school students, it would be wonderful to make a clear distinction between design elements and design principles. Then, provide a visual example for EACH one, then address how they can work alone or in combination with each other. Finally, if the content for the design principle ppt. had a worksheet that paralled the content, we would have less confusion on the teacher and student side. (Are teachers ever confused?)

Another issue is that when I look at the design principles that are mentioned in many of the ACA Certified textbooks, the principle listing in the book does not match the listing in the Adobe Curriculum. For example, the book I have been using lists the following as principles: balance, contrast, dominance, proximiy, repetition, closure, continuance, negative space, unity.

The ACA Design Principle Curriculum Worksheet lists:
emphasis/contrast, proximity/groupings, balance, alignment, harmony/proportion, white space, repetition, color, typography, other. However, not all of these are included in the ppt. How about including Design Elements as well?

Why am I making this an issue? I do because I want my students to be well-prepared for the ACA PSD Certification exam and be clear on what is an element, a principle, and when/how they can work together.

Sorry for being so literal- my brain just works that way. I seek verbal and visual clarity.

When will we be able to download all of this as one download? I really do love all you do! Just trying to make it better :-)

Now I am ready for summer break. xoxoxo

Gigi Fotieo

Posted on 2/13/15 6:14:08 PM Permalink

I full understand where you're coming from. My curriculum is more software-based and not art-based so I have a hard time communicating the difference between design elements and design principles as well. The ACA PS certification exam does include questions from time to time on these two very different topics.

I try to explain it to my students in this way—"elements" are what you USE in your design and "principles" are what you DO with those elements. It sometimes actually sinks in!

Jaime Ball

Posted on 3/5/14 12:52:02 AM Permalink

Yes, I agree. I am so excited to use the new curriculum. Can you tell me however, is there a way to download all the materials and files like we could in older versions of this curriculum. I like to have all the materials downloaded and organized together in case our internet connection goes down. I don't like being dependent on an internet connection to get to materials we need in class. I am sure there is a link somewhere, I just haven't been able to find it yet. Appreciate any guidance, Thanks -Jaime

Adobe Education

Posted on 3/5/14 4:21:25 AM Permalink

Hi Jamie....It's great to hear you like the new curriculum! At the moment you do need to download each piece separately. But, we're working on a putting together the full curriculum in one file, which will be part of a larger feature rollout that will help make the Adobe curriculum content more customizable. Stay tuned...

Jaime Ball

Posted on 3/7/14 10:35:24 PM Permalink

Okay, thank you. Until then I just took each file and combined them into one portfolio using Acrobat. Took about an hour, but it makes it so much easier for me to make lesson plans and read over resources when I can look though just like a book on my iPad. Anyone else that is like me and would rather have all these files can do it by simply downloading all the files to one folder and then adding files to a portfolio in Acrobat. I did separate the files by unit (just like the older version of Adobe's curriculum) but I kept them all in the same portfolio. So much easier if you need to transfer the files to and from different devices.

Adobe Education

Posted on 3/20/14 6:24:42 AM Permalink

Thanks for the tip Jamie. Our new feature will be available soon so hopefully you won't have to make this extra effort.

Adobe Education

Posted on 5/16/14 2:48:03 AM Permalink

Judy Durkin

Posted on 11/18/13 7:33:20 AM Permalink

This new curriculum is terrific. The organization and downloads are very modular and great for mixing and matching in different subject areas. I already gave the English department a copy of the materials on writing.