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True Blue: Using the Color Blue in Desktop Publishing Projects

written by: Haley Montgomery•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 6/29/2009

Shading both sky and sea, the color blue is a constant in our lives. Part 3 in a series on what primary colors communicate in your desktop publishing projects, this article introduces cultural associations of blue and how to effectively use it in DTP projects.

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    Using Blue in Desktop Publishing Projects

    Article Image Blue is often perceived as a constant in our lives because of its association with sky and water, and it serves as the calming agent among the primary colors. From deep navy and bright royal to blended teals and periwinkles, hues in the blue family can interject a diverse, but calm, cool and collected tone to desktop publishing projects. Because much of the earth is blue in the form of sky and sea, the color generally inspires confidence and reliability. Blue is appealing to both men and women almost equally, although men often report it as their most preferred color.

    What other unspoken messages does blue communicate when you use it in your desktop publishing projects? Let's find out. Based on the following feelings and color theory associations prevalent in response to colors in the blue family, you can determine if blue is a good option for your next DTP project.

    Color Associations

    Blue is almost universally accepted as a color symbolic of reliability, dependability and trustworthiness. In addition, there is some evidence that when the eye sees blue, it triggers the release of a tranquilizing chemical in the brain, producing a physical sensation of rest and calm. Generally, people report greater productivity and less anxiety when working in blue rooms, and exposure to the color has been shown to lower heart rate and body temperature. Therefore, basic blues often promote good mental concentration.

    Navy blue is perhaps the most serious in the color family and the most associated with power. Generally, darkening a color by moving the hue towards black infuses it with additional power. Thus, navy is synonymous with authority and credibility, but is also more approachable and friendly than straight black. The brightness of brilliant or electric blues shift the color away from more sedate versions. They lend a dynamic and exhilarating tone to projects, and tend to engage the viewer more than calmer, traditional blues. Periwinkle blues have a warmer undertone that emanates from the purple used to mix them and are often seen as more playful and energetic. Teal blues are associated with a more upscale look, indicating rich and unique qualities. This version of blue is the least gender-specific and equally appeals to both men and women.

    Although blue has universal appeal because of it’s association with Earth’s core water elements, it does have negative associations when applied to food. There are only a handful of blue tones present in food found in nature, and the color tends to create an appetite aversion.

    Blue is the signature color of stability and longevity. Therefore, it provides an excellent core color for many business-oriented DTP projects. Blue also can be very successful for designs with an environmental theme, especially when paired with green or orange, it’s complimentary color. Variations within the blue family offer opportunities to evoke a wide range of emotions, making blue a very flexible color choice for desktop publishing projects.

Using Primary Colors in DTP Projects

The primary colors encompass a full range of emotions from energetic to sedate. What do the red, yellow and blue communicate when used in desktop publishing projects? This 3-part article series highlights each primary color and describes its cultural associations and DTP design considerations.
  1. Seeing Red: Using the Color Red in Desktop Publishing Projects
  2. Mellow Yellow? Using the Color Yellow in Desktop Publishing Projects
  3. True Blue: Using the Color Blue in Desktop Publishing Projects