Although good design is an art, this rule really appeals to the logical side of my brain. The rule of proximity is really about organization.

The rule can be boiled down to this statement: related items should be grouped together. Grouping similar items together while separating items that are not similar create visual cues. When someone is scanning that flyer or postcard advertising a future event, arranging the details into similar groupings help the reader understand what is being communicated. Sometimes we have pieces that are information heavy. Don’t make it a chore to look at.

So the next time you are designing something, keep this in mind. The closer you place items on a page the more you communicate a relationship between those items.

Here’s a spectacular example of proximity at work. First of all, let me say that I’m not a fan of the script font on either examples. In addition, I think the “before” example is really bad… probably worse that what you’d really find out there, but maybe not. I’ve seen some bad stuff.

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Although this piece illustrates proximity, notice how the other rules are at work as well.  Contrast is used to distinguish headings from the rest of the content. Alignment to the left side makes the overall design look 1000% better. Grouping the information together (proximity) makes it readable. The first one makes me really nervous for some reason.

Take a look around. You’ll see alignment in nearly all well designed work.