Typography: Top 10 Rules To Follow

Great Typography

Be it books, websites, or even our phones–– we regularly digest a lot of textual content. From a shop’s billboard to pamphlets, there is some kind of typeface that always surrounds us. Typography is a timeless art that is always hot in trend. Most of the designers use their creative brains to come up with some stunning typography that makes the audience love it. But if you are a beginner and looking forward to structuring great typography, you need to follow certain guidelines. This blog contains some basic rules that make you more aware of how you structure your structure typography and use them in your designs.

Why is typography important?

Typography is everywhere. It may seem like something trivial, but a little tweak can make a big impact on the overall design that gets delivered. When Facebook changed its official font from Helvetica to a thinner font Geneva, the users found that in no time. Typography provides some impression at the very first glance, and when something changes in typography, the impression changes. Even Amazon did something similar to Facebook. The previous font it had used was readable on desktop as well as mobiles, but the latter font was just perfect for the e-readers and mobiles than the large screen. Little changes like these have the ability to change the whole impression without being noticed.

Rules to follow for great typography

Get the basics right

Your first goal towards effective typography is to learn about it. If you are not familiar with the concepts of typography, you would think that it is a simple discipline if you know half the alphabet that is like winning half the battle. All that’s left is to change how it looks a bit and yay! You’ve got a font!. But in reality, typography is as much as complicated as science, but it is an art. The anatomy in typography involves precise measurements, specific jargon, and general standards that must be known, followed, and respected. As design has many forms, you always end up breaking a rule if you know it well and you are doing it intentionally to make a statement out of it.

Watch out on your Kerning

Kerning is an important factor that designers new or old completely overlook. Kerning means adjusting the spacing between two letters in a given font. Note that this is something different from tracking, which means adjusting the space between letters simultaneously. You might think that expensive software like Adobe Illustrator can solve all your kerning issues, and therefore, there is no problem that can arise in your artwork. If you have never looked upon kerning issues, the problem might be because they are subtle, but they are still there.

There are many typefaces, especially those which have pronounced serifs that can show inconsistent spacing. This won’t pose a huge problem in sentences or paragraphs as the inconsistent spacing blends out. However, if you are dealing with just a few words like a headline or a logo, some sloppy kerning issues destroy the entire aesthetics.

You are not required to focus too much on the letters like the negative space between the letters. Try to incorporate a visually consistent space throughout the word or phrase.

Do not stretch fonts

This is also a simple rule which is overlooked by many designers, even the experts. In general, fonts are designed with careful attention to each letter’s details (shapes and measurements). Stretching a font takes away the efficiency and value of the font. A common reason why people stretch their font is to make them look a bit taller or wider. There is one way to achieve this without stretching the font. You can choose already tall or wide from the ones available online. Some come with a price, and the rest are free.

Work with grids

As with any other important elements, the design grid is also a critical element for typography. Working with grids makes sure that every little thing thats put in design will produce a logical and visual harmony. It makes everything look cohesive and interconnected.

You don’t need to use grids every time you create something; however, it benefits you when you understand why grids are used.

Keep an eye on font communication

Font selection is an important process. Simply gazing through your library of fonts will rarely help you produce an effective result. The reason is that there is deep-rooted psychology associated with certain fonts. If you select vintage fonts for displaying something about the current trend, it means the selection is poor. The reason is due to the vague relation between the text and the visual personality of the font selection. You would never see the World’s Ultimate Fighting champion written in a pretty script font. Similarly, you would never use Copper Black font on wedding invitations. We have all been accustomed to use different fonts for different occasions.

Thick fonts with hard edges are usually masculine, and curvy, thin fonts are feminine and girly. These may all look obvious, but your typography skills will have a radical improvement if you are able to take this knowledge out of the implicit and instinctive and transform it into something explicit and intentional action.

Alignment matters

The most important concept in typography is alignment. For some reason, the amateurs or non-designers always tend to center-align everything. It’s maybe because somewhere in life we have learned that if anything stands in the center, it is balanced and therefore better. But in reality, the center alignment is the weakest, hardest to read, and should be incorporated very selectively.

Left alignment is common in books and magazines, and we are used to reading it that way. Center-aligned paragraphs are much harder to read due to the lack of hard edge. There is no consistent starting point or stopping point in each line because your eyes take a moment to adjust to each line. This difference is subtle in practice but is pretty huge in principle.

This doesn’t mean that you should use left alignment everywhere, just ask yourself whether the readability is important or that specific aesthetic which you are trying to achieve is. Ideally, these principles work together, but in reality, they compromise one another.

Choose a great secondary font

After you are done selecting your primary typeface, the next will be choosing another font that will highlight it. This is as opposed to a font which can conflict with a primary font. If your supporting font is harder to read than the primary font, it detracts from the latter and should be avoided. Also, you can’t have both your primary and secondary fonts similar in thickness be used together. Even though their style might vary, their similar weight in a stroke doesn’t provide a visual contract between the two.

Your fonts necessarily don’t need to contrast so much but make sure they are different enough to prevent the visual confusion that might arise and also emphasize more on the primary font.

Size matters too

As a designer, you need to understand that the headline of the promotional material you work with should instantly grab the reader’s attention. You have just got a second or two to get someone’s attention. If you have missed this opportunity, you have lost a potential client.

This means that–when you are creating a headline, don’t simple type one–– design it! If you leave all the words with the same size, width and color, it leaves zero emphasis on the message. It will just be seen as the rest of the body text. You need to scream the words that are very important and want your audience to first look at. The others can be de-emphasized.

The problem with the headline is that your viewer must be wanting to take time to read it. The trick is to make the viewers read the important parts the second after they see the headline, almost by accident.

Think of it as an art

Typography is not about headlines or the body copy––start thinking about it as a design element. Typefaces must be meticulously designed, and therefore should be considered as a valuable asset for your design storehouse. This goes beyond creating faces with letters. If you are planning to come up with a typography-centric design, think of ways to incorporate attractive types. Also, never feel that you are confined to the existing structure of fonts.

Try expanding on the font shapes to suit your needs. You can add swirls, texture, spots, blotches, and anything that you think will spice up the typography’s look.

Find good inspiration

The best way to ace effective and eye-catching typography is to find and study some already existing worthy examples. Good and bad typography is close enough like the nearby fast food joint. Keep a lookout wherever you go and look at what others are doing, and think about why it does or doesn’t work well.

March 2, 2021
10 min read
8 reads

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