So you’re trying to design a poster, flyer, website, or business card. You have the design software, a photo, some color ideas and an hour—how are you going to do this? You’ll need to know what to write and how to write it, and then you’ll need to find a way to actually make it look good. Here’s where good typography comes in…
Typography is the study of fonts and the messages they convey. Graphic designers are well versed in the study of typography because even a basic understanding of typography will amplify the effectiveness of any design, whether it’s design of everyday documents or major creative projects. To help you improve your design skills, or even to help you communicate your ideas to a graphic designer, we’ve put together 10 typography tips...
Serifs are for body, san serifs are for titles
Serifed fonts are those that have small ticks or ends to the letters, while sans serifs are clean and crisp. Sans serif fonts are best for headlines or titles because they stand out well and make a clear statement. Serif fonts are a little easier to read when formatted in a block, making them great for body text.
Decorative fonts are for decoration
Just the same way that a basil salad with lettuce garnish would be unbearable, a document covered in elaborate, decorative fonts can have so much flair that all of its meaning is lost. Use decorative fonts sparingly, like you would basil in your margarita salad.
Typically use two typefaces per document
Use one for the font for headlines, and another for the body text. Try to stick with those two and play with size and color to create variety and difference in the design of your document or project.
When using differing typefaces, make them very different
When using multiple typefaces, make sure they are different enough from each other that they can’t be mistaken from one another. If they are too similar, it may look like one is slightly off, or that the document wasn’t put together well.
Legibility is more important than style
When making a document that others will be viewing, it’s essential to remember that you are trying to convey information. While good design will make it stand out, make sure that information can be read and processed by others.
Viewers need to be able to know what the most important information is for them to see. If the information is all uniform, they won’t know what to look at and will probably move on. Make the document like a treasure hunt: give them a starting point, and then lead them from one point to another. Think title, subtitle, body.
Less is more
Too much type will often leave the reader intimidated, bored or impatient. Cut everything that is unnecessary. Designers will often create their entire document, and then go back and delete things one at a time until it conveys only necessary information.
Let your type breathe
Letters need to space to be readable. Some software will allow you to change three typeface settings, the leading, kerning and tracking of the letters. These features control the space between letters, between lines, and between words and will help you achieve the right amount of space for your design.
Though your computer may come with pre-installed fonts, there are tens of thousands of other fonts out there you can download. Many of these fonts are free, but many of the professionally designed fonts cost money. Downloading them illegally can cause future legal problems so be sure to purchase fonts if necessary.
Trying to differentiate the points you’re trying to communicate using differing alignment can be problematic and confusing for the viewer. If you do want to change alignment, be sure to keep it uniform. Having infinite starting places for your type will only make your piece more jumbled and hard to understand.
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