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Going Green: Using the Color Green in Desktop Publishing Projects

written by: Haley Montgomery•edited by: Daniel P. McGoldrick•updated: 6/30/2009

From the renewal of spring to the warmth of tropical waters, green hues are a calming influence on DTP projects. Part 3 in a series on what secondary colors communicate in your desktop publishing projects, this article introduces cultural associations of green and how to effectively use it.

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    Using Green in Desktop Publishing Projects

    Article Image Green is one of the most prevalent colors found in nature and offers one of the widest arrays of choices in the spectrum. Because it is linked to so many shades in nature, multiple tones of green are rarely perceived to clash with one another. Because of its abundance and near universal appeal, the color green can often be used like a neutral in DTP layouts.

    What other unspoken messages does green 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 green family, you can determine if green is a good option for your next DTP project.

    Color Associations

    The many shades and hues of green offer varying associations that can appeal to nearly any audience. Blue green tones almost always elicit a pleasant response from viewers because they are so closely related to earth and sky. These colors are perceived as clean and cool, but also warm like the tropical waters they evoke. Blue greens are typically very soothing and are flattering to most skin tones. Lighter mint greens are seen as refreshing and easily invoke sweet thoughts of chocolate and the plant bearing its name. While brighter greens connote renewal embodying spring, fresh grass and leaf buds, deeper greens are associated with the mysterious silence of forests. Both call to mind refreshing scents, but deeper greens also connote prestige, security and trustworthiness because of their use in American money.

    Among the lesser-used greens, bright emerald signifies elegance and is also strongly associated with the Irish heritage. Yellow-greens can be used effectively for projects related to gardening or florals because they resemble new growth. Chartreuse is perceived as trendy and an attention-getter that gives a youthful feel appealing to children and teens. Olive tones can be seen as up-scale but are most interesting when paired with stronger colors.

    Among greens negative associations, it is sometimes used in cultural terminology to represent jealousy, envy or inexperience. Some shades of yellow-green are actually associated with nausea and illness, so are not good for dining, recreational or travel related projects.

    Although there are a few negative associations, green is among the easiest family of colors to incorporate into DTP projects. The sheer variety of green shades means a designer can almost always find one to compliment other layout colors. In addition, the strong associations with nature give the color green very strong appeal. The positive connotations of green run the gamut from environmental to soothing to refreshing to prestigious. When designing a desktop publishing project, you can hardly go wrong employing green as a color choice.

Using Secondary Colors in DTP Projects

The secondary colors employ a complexity sometimes absent in primary colors. What do the orange, purple and green communicate when used in desktop publishing projects? This 3-part article series highlights each secondary color and describes its cultural associations and DTP design considerations.
  1. Orange Alert: Using the Color Orange in Desktop Publishing Projects
  2. Purple Haze: Using the Color Purple in Desktop Publishing Projects
  3. Going Green: Using the Color Green in Desktop Publishing Projects