Tagged: leading

Smart typography tips

typography rules

A few typography rules to make your design more professional

There are plenty of sites that can help you with grammar and typography – Grammar Girl comes to mind. Here are a few tips that can make your next printed piece more professional.

  • USING ALL CAPS ONLY DRAWS ATTENTION TO YOUR AMATEUR UNDERSTANDING OF DESIGN.
  • Bold, italics, underlined, or otherwise highlighted text should be used sparingly. You use these techniques to draw attention to specific text. If you overuse it, you accomplish just the opposite.
  • Fully justified text boxes are not only more difficult to read, but they tend to leave you with unsightly gaps throughout your text.
  • Periods and commas belong “inside the quotes, not outside them.”
  • Headlines don’t have to be the thickest bold typestyle you have available. Consider making your headlines a thin typestyle, and just a few points larger instead.
  • Placing two spaces at the end of a sentence went out with the typewriter. Just don’t do it.
  • Make every effort to use black or relatively solid color body copy. When you use a four-color body copy at sizes smaller than 12-14 points, it’s quite difficult to register on the printing press.
  • Proper grammar requires you to not indent the first paragraph, but all the following ones instead. That being said, indenting paragraphs is another rule that mostly died with the typewriter. Newspapers still do it, but consider that they’re using a small text size and trying to cram as much on a page as possible, so they use the tightest leading possible, and little to no space between paragraphs.
  • Scaling type horizontally or vertically looks horrible. You’re much better off finding an extended or tall typestyle instead.
  • Widows tell the intelligent reader that you just don’t care. Adjust the kerning, line breaks, or the content of the text itself to avoid having only one or two words at the end of a paragraph whenever possible.
  • Along with paragraph widows, having your first column of text spill over into a second column (or the next page) with only one sentence (orphans) just looks bad.
  • When indenting bullet lists, make sure that the second line of text is indented to line up with the first letter of the bullet, not the bullet itself. You can do this by hitting Command + \ just before the first letter of text after a bullet point.
  • For the love of God, kern any headlines or large text blocks. It’s easy to hide the bad kerning of a font in body text, but uneven gaps in headlines looks horrible. It’s especially noticeable in any text used in a logo. Take the few extra seconds to clean it up.

In the first paragraph I mentioned print design. It’s quite difficult, if not impossible, to stick to these rules when working in HTML. Society pretty much accepts a lot more on a web page than they do in print when it comes to typography.