In this lesson, you will learn about the Proximity principle.

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Visual Communications

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What's Covered

Welcome to today's lesson on proximity. This lesson will cover the proximity principle, why it's important, and a few examples of proximity in practice. Specifically, this lesson will cover:

  1. Defining Proximity
  2. Close Proximity
  3. Importance of Proximity

1. Defining Proximity

Proximity is the distance between elements in a given space.

Term to Know

    • Proximity
    • Proximity is the distance between elements in a given space.

So this principle is not just referring to when to group elements together, but how to group them as well, specifically when to group them, when not to group them, and how to group them.

2. Close Proximity

Below is an image of a school of fish that are all in close proximity.

This close proximity shows that they belong together; they're part of some community. Without knowing much about either of these species of fish, the image communicates something to the viewer in that the fish are really unified and stick together, and are organized, compared to sort of the purpley-pink fish that are just walloping and running amok about.

3. Importance of Proximity

Proximity may sound really basic, but it's a really important principle, because the logical arrangement of objects will dictate how the viewer will perceive a message or idea within the design and, oftentimes, guide the viewer as well.

So for example, these simple blue dots below are arranged in this fashion that might lead the viewer to perceive it with a sense of unity.

Likewise, the image of red dots below might be perceived as orderly.

The image below of green dots might be equality or uniformity.

Now by contrast, if you change all these around and group them in different places, you suddenly have fragmentation. Or you get chaos. Or inequality, or lack of uniformity.

A very common example of proximity is the common business card.

You'll notice in the card above that nothing is grouped together and everything's in its own corner and such. The viewer is not really sure what order they should be reading the information. The most logical place to start would probably be in the center and then from that point on you're just supposed to move about the page.

By contrast, when everything's grouped together in closer proximity by their elements, there's a very clear distinction.

There is a very logical progression and placement of the elements. It's much clearer, much easier to understand and overall, the message that's being conveyed on the business card is a lot easier to follow.


That concludes today’s lesson on proximity, close proximity, and the importance of proximity. Proximity is so important because the arrangement of objects will dictate how a viewer will perceive the work. 

Keep up the learning and have a great day!


  • Proximity

    Proximity is the distance between elements in a given space.