Typography is the design of texts for print copying (books, magazines, flyers, brochures etc.) or reproduction on a screen (internet/web design, television, film). Since the personal computer made the world of typesetting accessible to the general public, the term typography has achieved great popularity. Today I would like to give you 8 typography tips about how to avoid mistakes and taboos in the art of typography so that your readers can be provided with a perfect typeface and easy to read texts.
A short overview of typography
What is typography? The term comes from the ancient Greek and is made up of the word “Typos” for “impression” or “form” and the term “Graphein” for “writing”, it is best translated as “working with script”. The original meaning referred to the typography in all areas of the “art of printing”, from print design, letter casting and the methods of printing typographical reproduction to the formal design of printed publications. Due to rapid technical and social structural change, the term typography can no longer be defined clearly and in a universally applicable manner. While typography stands for printed fonts, it also describes the design process of printed publications and electronic media via images, fonts, lines, surfaces and typographic space. Therefore the broad term typography does not just cover the design of a layout and the creation and design of fonts. However it can be said that the art of typography consists of combining design features in a suitable way.
Good typography is what a good servant may have been: always at your service yet not noticeable; unobtrusive, but a prerequisite of well-being, silent, smooth […] A good font means the correct arrangement; those are the two pillars of all font art.
(Jan Tschichold, one of the most influential typographers of the 20th century)
Here are some tips for harmonious typography.
#1 The line length of continuous text
The line length influences the flow when reading a text. If the length of a line is too long or too short, the reader can view the text as wearisome or annoying. A long line disturbs the flow of reading as the reader’s eye has to search for the beginning of the next line.
The optimal number of characters of letters varies from text to text, 50-80 characters are recommended, including spaces.
#2 The line spacing of continuous text
Line spacing plays an important role in the readability of a text. If it is chosen correctly it is easier for the reader to follow the text and the appearance of the overall text is improved. Many factors influence line spacing: the type of font, the size of the font or character width. The longer a line is, the greater the line spacing that is required, the shorter it is the shorter the line spacing.
#3 Optical justification of inverted commas
Inverted commas should always be inserted outside the text. If they are inside a block of text this interrupts the reader’s flow. InDesign, for example, includes the function of optical justification for this and other special characters.
#4 Vertical alignment of the text in the layout
Maintaining the writing lines is essential for the flow when reading a text. Therefore the reader is able to follow it quickly and easily, regardless of the font, font size or line spacing used.
#5 The Widow and the Orphan
The widow describes an error in which the last line of a paragraph begins a new column or page. An orphan is an error in which the first line of a paragraph forms the last line of a column or page. Widows and orphans spoil the look of a page of text and influence readability to a large extent. They can be avoided by adapting the font size, length of sentences, line spacing and vertical alignment. I would also like to direct you to my print blog article about orphans and widows.
#6 Highlighting the font in the layout
It is important to highlight a word without disturbing the flow of reading. There are many ways to do this; bold text, superscript and subscript or underlining. The best way to highlight a word is to use italics. Whatever you choose you should avoid mixing the individual forms.
#7 Unjustified text
In typography unjustified text describes a paragraph where the lines end irregularly. Make sure that the non-aligned text page is kept uniform and without large gaps.
#8 Scaling of the letters (type size)
You should always work with a defined scale of different font sizes which have been defined in advance and that you adhere to. The correct scaling is important as it forms a typographical hierarchy and strengthens the cohesion of a text. Take a look at my extensive collection of stylish and free fonts.