Color is a very important part of design. Most people have a subconscious, emotional response to color. In the United States, a green rectangle will immediately cause most people to think of money. It can quickly become very complicated to talk about color, but just to begin with, here are several guidelines to follow:

    • Keep it simple. Use color to draw the eye to a headline or subheadings and add interest. Limit your color palette, for a professional appearance to your fonts and layout boxes.
    • Complex colors are compelling. Pick a contrasting color to add interest. If your main brand color is blue, consider using purple. Using a more “complex” color such as purple as a subheading with a primary blue, red, or yellow heading will give a more polished look.
    • Grab colors from an image you already have. When you are using photos or illustrations, use a color picker tool (even Microsoft word and PowerPoint have them) to select a color within the image and use that. Often you will discover a more interesting and unusual color that way.
    • Save time with tools. Confused about which colors to use or what rgb color that silvery gray you love so much is? Here is a free tool you can use. Adobe Kuler hosts color palettes and has tools to play with your own colors. It also will give you the RGB/Hexidecimal, and CMYK color values, which you will need for consistent results for web, print, and multimedia files.
    • Contrast is king. If you print out the page on a black and white printer can you still read it? If not, you need to make your light color lighter and your dark color darker. Subtle contrast can work well in magazines or print, but often those are printed as high resolution files with a very good printer. If you are on a budget, make it easy on yourself and your readers by giving extra contrast to any areas you really want them to read.

I hope these basic tips have helped you to begin exploring the use of color on your everyday newsletters, websites, and emails.