Trying your hand at graphic design and don’t know where to start? Follow these simple tips for combining text and images to create effective designs.

If your brochure or advertisement design uses text, you want to make sure the words in the image aren’t overlooked by the viewer. There’s a lot more to the art of applying text in an effective way than slapping some words on a picture. Consider the use of space, size, and even color of the words. Here are five effective tips for adding text to an image.

1. Using Shapes

5 Basic Tricks You Need to Know About Adding Text to Images — Using Shapes

Image by Softulka.

Shapes can convey meaning on their own, but when used in conjunction with text they also help the viewer focus on your words. Place a solid colored box behind the words in order to highlight the text and make the words easier to read if the background design is busy. Or, if a solid background looks distracting, use lines to create shapes around your text to draw focus.

2. Looking at Negative Space

5 Basic Tricks You Need to Know About Adding Text to Images — Negative Space

Image by anyaivanova.

If you’re using a photograph, look for gaps or openings in the picture. This is generally a great place to put text, where it’s prominent but doesn’t detract from the photo. If you’re using negative space, you’ll want it to be somewhere it will draw the viewer’s eye, such as near the center of the image.

3. Overlaying

5 Basic Tricks You Need to Know About Adding Text to Images — Overlays

Image by Kozlenko.

Don’t underestimate the effect of a simple overlay in flyer or brochure design. The trick to overlaying text effectively is to make sure there is enough of a contrast between the text and the background design to help the words stand out. There are many ways to achieve this, including:

  • Blur the background image
  • Adjust the saturations of the background
  • Make the background transparent

Make sure the background isn’t too noisy or distracting when you overlay your text onto it. You’ll want to choose a font color that stands out without being difficult to read or blinding to look at (don’t choose neon font over a bright background, for example).

4. Varying Fonts and Sizes

5 Basic Tricks You Need to Know About Adding Text to Images — Varying Fonts

Image by wow.subtropica.

Another way to make your text pop is to use different but complementary fonts and sizes. You can choose a focal word or short phrase and put it in a larger font than the other text, for example. Then you need to decide how to present the text. Will you stack it so the smaller words are above and below the big word? Will you have one horizontal line of text? Often, the variety of font style and size is enough to capture the attention of a viewer.

5. Choosing the Right Color

Image by Aleksandrs Bondars.

You can make your text whatever color you please, but take into account the rest of the image design when choosing it. Every color has a mood. For example, red is impulsive and passionate, yellow is happy, and blue is soothing. If you wish to go for a calming effect in your design, use a soft color with a soft background. White is a great color for font over a dark background, or you can use contrasting colors for pop and energy—just make sure it’s easy to look at and read.

There are many design tools available to help you add text to an image in unique ways. For more information and useful tips, try Shutterstock.