Designing for the Web with Title and Action Safe in Mind

Anyone who has created content for broadcast knows that safe areas should be respected, even though modern televisions don’t suffer from the same problems that initiated the use of title/action safe. One of the subtle benefits – using guides can bring your content in line with typical design styles used in broadcast.


Why are Safe Areas Important?

The reason why safe areas used to be critically important was because older CRT TV’s wouldn’t always fit all of the content within the visible screen. As a result, the areas around the edges were at risk of being lost, similar to bleed in print design. Filmmakers had to keep this in mind when composing shots, or creating graphics to be shown on the screen. However, with modern TV’s being so good at using all of the area on the screen, it’s actually not as important of a factor than it used to be with CRT TVs.

So why should you think about action safe and title safe? Two reasons, it is still recommended to use safe areas when creating content for broadcast and secondly it has become part of the visual language we associate with broadcast content.

There are two major guides that you need to be aware of. The title safe area and the action safe area. The inner guide is the title safe region. Any important graphics like logos or typography should stay with this region. To use print terminology as the comparison, this is the safe area. The outer guide is the action safe region, this is the area suitable to crop on certain screens and should not contain any critical imagery. Using the print reference again, this would be the bleed.


Enabling Safe Areas in After Effects

In Adobe After Effects you can toggle title/action safe guides by pressing the apostrophe key or by selecting it from the “Grid and Guidelines” drop down.

Title/Action Safe guides can be activated by clicking on the "Grids and Guides" button in the viewport.
Title/Action Safe guides can be activated by clicking on the “Grids and Guides” button in the viewport.

Enabling Safe Areas in Photoshop

In Adobe Photoshop you can create a new document with safe areas by creating a new document and selecting “Film & TV” from the “Document Type” section. This will create a new document with guides places in the safe areas.

Photoshop safe areas
Most presets within the Film & Video section will have safe areas by default.


Enabling Safe Areas in Illustrator

In Adobe Illustrator you can create a new document with safe areas in the same way that you can with Photoshop.

Safe Areas in Illustrator
Once you create a new document in Illustrator, you can turn the guides on and off in the Artboard panel.


Final Thoughts

Even if your piece is destined for the web, get in the habit of using the guides to keep your designs broadcast safe. It’s subtle, but when you design all of your content this way it begins to take on the aesthetic that viewers are used to seeing on television, as a result you are subconsciously raising the production value in the viewer’s mind.


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