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  • Typography


    Once we have our colours sorted out, the next thing to consider is how our text will look. For most material, the text conveys the majority of the information. As such, easier to read text (legibility) can play a huge part in how your material is considered.

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    Typography is a big area. Typography is about how we organise and display text. There are many aspects of the text in our material that we can influence including:
    • Font
    • Font size - size of text
    • Leading - Spacing between lines of text
    • Tracking - Spacing of characters within a word
    • Display of characters, bold, italic etc
    • Column width, ie how many words per line

    Your aim is to create text that is as easy as possible to read. Doing so involves getting the right mix of all of these. You will probably need to experiment a bit go get it right.

    There are many different fonts out there and they can have a big impact on legibility. A general rule is that on the screen sans serif fonts are easier to read and printed serif fonts are easier to read. Feel free to mix and match however. A common combination is to use a sans serif font for the content and a serif font for headings. Keep your use of fonts limited too. Most designers like to work with only 2 fonts on a piece of work. They may touch 3 but only as a last resort.

    Font Size
    Too small and your readers will find it hard to read. Too large and it just doesn't look right. Don't be afraid to try your text a little bit larger than normal. You may be surprised by how it turns out (this is both for headings and main body text).

    If the lines are too close to each other then it makes the content cramped and your mind has to put more effort in to keep on the right line. If the lines are too far apart then if can have the affect of making your text seem disjointed. I find that the default leading is typically not bad but can be improved by making it slightly further apart.

    As you're probably guessing, there's a pattern forming here. Again too close and it's hard to read and too far apart breaks the flow. Sometimes, headings being a good example, playing about with tracking can actually create some nice effects.

    Bold, italics and underline are good for highlighting important parts of your content. Like other aspects, keep it to a minimum for best effect. Ideally use only one of these or two at most.

    Column Width
    This will largely be affected by the overall design of your work but is something you should consider. The recommended number of words per line is between 9 - 15 but you can generally get away with a bit more than this if you get your other aspects (font, font size, leading and tracking) in balance. One think to keep in mind, if you're designing web pages particularly, is lines that adjust to the width of the screen. This is especially so nowadays with larger widescreen monitors being common. You want to make sure your lines don't become too long and unwieldly.