At some point in your life you will likely find yourself sitting in front of a computer monitor faced with the overwhelming yet powerful task of styling and arranging text. Whether you’re designing a simple flyer for your uncle’s yard sale or an editorial spread in a magazine, the same typographic principles apply. Having strong typography is essential to getting your message across in a way that is coherent and attractive. Here are seven quick guidelines to keep in mind the next time you’re working with type.
Use Decorative Type in Small Doses: With all of the beautiful script and display typefaces available, it’s easy to want to use them a lot. Intricate typefaces can be hard for the eye to digest in large amounts, so these are typically more successful when used for a sentence or less.
Know When To Stop: Combining typefaces can be exhilarating, but knowing when to stop is crucial. Having too many typefaces on your piece will make for a very jarring experience.
Create Hierarchy: To make information easier to digest, it is important to establish distinction between headlines, subheadings and body text. For example, making items such as headlines larger or bolder than the main copy provides the reader with a clear sense of where to look first.
Don’t Mix Similar Typefaces: Avoid using two typefaces that share too many commonalities. The lack of contrast won’t create the necessary hierarchy and can look lazy or accidental. Ideally, you should combine typefaces that appear intentionally different.
Be Conscious of Backgrounds: When setting type on colored backgrounds or photos, make sure that there is adequate contrast, so everything remains legible.
Don’t Stretch Your Type: If you need to resize text, make sure that you’re scaling it proportionately. If you need for text to be set wider, look for an extended member of the font-family. If you’re looking for type to that accommodates a narrower space, consider using a condensed version.
Bonus Points for Never Using Papyrus: This typeface can be found on almost every working computer and it is no secret that it is overused by the general public and shamed by designers all over the world. Unless you’re planning a kitschy Egyptian-themed party, Papyrus should not be used.