Basic Typography principles which work like magic
Typography is the butter to your bread called Design. A nice layer of it on a fine slice of bread, simply delicious. I’m afraid I’ve made you hungry. Sorry about that. I’m typing this in one hand with a piece of toast in the other.
We see text everywhere. Mobile screens, billboards, newspapers, magazines etc. Why do these texts stare at us from all these places? Are they trying to say something? Definitely, yes.
Communication is an integral part of design and as designers it is our job to make sure that the message is precisely conveyed to our audience. There are subjective arguments out there, but there are simple things which we can do to make typography work.
Here are ten solid rules which will make your toast taste better, smell fantastic and look delicious:
1. When unsure, stick to one font
You might know the names of different fonts, that’s great but to use two fonts in a layout requires a thorough understanding of the fonts. You should know if they are a ‘happily ever after type’ or the ‘I will break up with you soon’ type. If you’re a beginner, stick with that one font till you’ve mastered it. Combining two families isn’t easy.
2. Left is the new right
The most common way a person reads is from left to right. If you’re completely unsure about the alignment, use left justification. It’s easier to read and looks clean to the eye.
3. Use any font but…
Use any font but make sure that they sound something like Avenir, Helvetica, Bodoni, Courier, Avant Garde(it’s not a singers name), Franklin Gothic, Garamond, Futura, Didot, Baskerville, Gotham, Gill sans and Trajan. I may have missed a few favorites but these are my recommended ones.
The best way to highlight or differentiate something is by using subtle contrast. Go from light to medium or from regular to bold. Sometimes, it’s good to skip weights.
5. Double isn’t trouble
How do I change the point size without making it look ugly? Well, it’s simple. Double up or down the point size. For example, if you’re using 15 pt for the body, then use 30 pt for the heading.
6. Dress for the occasion
Imagine being dressed in casuals for your wedding. Doesn’t sound right, does it? It’s the same thing with fonts. Use the right font for the right occasion.
Arranging blocks of text has a lot of benefits. Users will understand that they all fall under the same umbrella and it just feels and looks very organized. The last thing you should do is combining dissimilar information in a block.
8. Allow your letters to breathe
Before diving into the layout, make sure you’ve set grids, margins and guides. Some designers commit this common mistake of having really tight margins set and the text literally starts dying due to the lack of breathing space. Also, white space is healthy but do not try to overcompensate.
9. Widows and Orphans
Starting a new page or a column using a word from the previous paragraph by separating it from it’s group is called an orphan. A widow is a line dangling from the top or bottom of a column. Make sure that you aren’t the reason behind it.
Here’s the last point about blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, folks. ( Folks is the widow here)
10. No fancy shapes
Rag refers to the irregular or uneven vertical margin of a block of type. Usually it’s the right margin that’s ragged but sometimes it could be both. I’ve seen a lot of weird and undesired shapes which appear, try to avoid that.
If you feel that the letters are sticking quite close to each other, kern them. Kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between characters to achieve a visually pleasing balance.
I’ve been practising typography for the past few years and these principles have helped me in tight dry situations and also this is my first article on Medium. If you have any suggestions on writing better or if you feel I suck at this, do leave a comment and if you genuinely like it, I’ll be happy to hear those claps.