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PCB Basics 2: Design Guidelines

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PCB Basics 2: Design Guidelines

Nov 21, 2023

Welcome to the second article in our PCB Basics series. In this article, we will explore the essential PCB design guidelines that are crucial for achieving optimal PCB design performance and functionality. Whether you're an electronics enthusiast, hobbyist, engineer, student, or professional in the field, understanding these guidelines will empower you to create high-quality PCB designs.

Let's dive into the details with JLCPCB!

Component Placement:

Effective component placement is vital for optimal PCB performance. It influences signal integrity, thermal management, and manufacturability.

  • When discussing component placement, consider key factors such as proximity to heat sources, signal paths, and connectors.
  • Emphasize the importance of separating analog and digital components to minimize interference. Additionally, highlights the significance of placing high-speed components closer to the signal source to reduce signal degradation.
  • To reduce signal degradation, it is important to minimize the trace lengths between high-speed components and the signal source. Shorter trace lengths help mitigate the effects of signal loss, reflections, and distortions caused by parasitic elements.
  • By controlling impedance and minimizing crosstalk and noise coupling, placing high-speed components closer to the signal source improves signal quality and reduces the risk of signal corruption.

Trace Routing:

Proper trace routing plays a critical role in signal integrity, EMI/EMC compliance, and impedance control.

To maintain signal integrity, it is crucial to minimize signal reflections by following proper trace routing techniques. Signal reflections can occur when there is a sudden change in impedance along the transmission line, leading to a partial reflection of the signal. This can result in signal degradation and timing errors. To minimize reflections, it is important to use controlled impedance traces, match the impedance of the transmission lines with the source and load, and avoid abrupt changes in trace width or direction.

In high-speed designs, crosstalk is another important consideration. Crosstalk refers to the undesired coupling of signals between adjacent traces, which can result in signal interference and degradation. To mitigate crosstalk, techniques such as spacing the traces adequately, using differential pairs for high-speed signals, and employing shielding techniques can be employed.

Impedance control is crucial for maintaining signal integrity, especially in high-speed designs. Impedance mismatches can lead to signal reflections and degraded performance. To ensure impedance control, it is important to use proper trace widths, dielectric materials, and layer stack-up configurations. Design guidelines and simulation tools can be utilized to calculate and verify the impedance values, allowing for efficient signal transmission.

Layer Stack-up:

The layer stack-up configuration impacts signal integrity, power distribution, and thermal management.

The layer stack-up of a PCB determines the distribution of power and ground planes, signal layers, and other functional layers. It plays a crucial role in signal integrity, power distribution, and thermal management. A well-designed layer stack-up helps in reducing electromagnetic interference (EMI), improving signal quality, and enhancing the overall performance of the PCB.

When selecting the layer count, consider the complexity of the design, the number of signal layers required, and the need for power and ground planes. More layers allow for better control of impedance and reduce the chance of signal crosstalk.

Design Rules:

Design rules are a set of guidelines that define the minimum requirements for various aspects of PCB layout, ensuring manufacturability and reliability. Design rule checks (DRC) are automated tools that verify if the design adheres to these rules, preventing potential issues during fabrication and assembly.

Minimum trace width and spacing are crucial design rules that affect signal integrity, impedance control, and manufacturability. Narrow traces can lead to high resistance and signal loss, while insufficient spacing between traces can result in crosstalk and short circuits. Adhering to proper trace width and spacing requirements minimizes these issues and ensures reliable PCB performance.

Annular ring size is another important design rule, especially for vias and pads. It defines the copper ring around the drilled hole and affects the mechanical strength and reliability of the connections. Insufficient annular ring size can lead to weak solder joints and potential failures. Designing with appropriate annular ring sizes ensures robust connections and reliable PCB operation.

Solder mask clearance is the distance between the copper features and the solder mask layer. Sufficient clearance is necessary to prevent solder mask encroachment on pads and traces, which can cause soldering issues during assembly. Proper solder mask clearance design rules ensure reliable solderability and avoid solder mask-related defects.

It is important to note that design rules may vary between PCB manufacturers or specific fabrication processes. You can familiarize yourself with the design rules provided by your manufacturer and consider industry standards, such as IPC standards, to ensure compliance and optimize the manufacturability of your PCB designs.


In this article, we have explored the essential PCB design guidelines for achieving optimal performance. We discussed the significance of component placement, trace routing, and layer stack-up in ensuring signal integrity, EMI/EMC compliance, and thermal management. We also highlighted the importance of design rules and provided insights into key considerations such as trace width and spacing, annular ring size, and solder mask clearance. By following these guidelines, you will be equipped to create high-quality PCB layouts that meet industry standards and ensure the success of your electronic projects.

Visit JLCPCB's website to explore our design tools, tutorials, and services that can help you optimize your PCB layouts and bring your electronic designs to life. Stay tuned for the next article in our PCB Basics series.

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