The smallest possible visual element you can put in a design, is a point. In the mathematical or abstract sense, a point indicates a precise location, but can’t be seen or felt. It’s a pair of (x,y) coordinates without area or mass. It’s also the smallest unit of measurement – one point is equal to 1/72 of an inch, and we use it to describe font size and the thickness of paper stock.
Graphically, however, it must take on some sort of shape. Even though a point is the smallest possible element, it doesn’t necessarily have to be tiniest thing in a design. Usually, points take form as dots or small circles, but any element within a design that stands alone with a recognizable centre is also a point. For example, in a field of text every letter may be considered a point, or the centre of a closed square may be considered a point.
Because of these characteristics, points – when standing on their own – are the best way to indicate single data points or individual and independent information.
The real power of points, however, appears when you use a large group of points to create something bigger. A series of points creates a line. A mass of points can create shape, form, texture, tone, and pattern.
Points don’t have a direction; they simultaneously radiate inward and outward. Points are therefore, by themselves, perceived as static and balanced. If you want your design to be calm, relaxed and harmonious, points are the way to go. If you want a more interesting or exciting design, opt for other elements.
A good example of this stasis is the fact that in typography, the point is a period – the definitive end of a line. The point stops movement.