Considering that typography is one of the MOST important aspects of good design (and one of my personal favorites) I started a little “Typography Tuesday” series on Instagram where I’ve been sharing some of my tips and tricks (plus some things that I consider to be big “no nos”.)
I thought I would compile all of those tips on the blog for a quick and easy reference because ain’t nobody got time to scroll through someone’s entire Instagram feed, ya feel me?
Before we dive in, let’s cover the basics shall we? What even is typography? If you’re not a designer (or you’re a new designer) you may have heard “typography” thrown around without fully knowing what it means… aka is it just another word for font or what are we talking about here? Not to worry, I found a great definition to share that breaks it all down:
Typography: is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable and appealing when displayed. The arrangement of type involves selecting typefaces, point sizes, line lengths, line-spacing, and letter-spacing, and adjusting the space between pairs of letters.
I love this definition because it describes typography as an “art” and I couldn’t agree more! The beauty of design is that it is (to a degree) subjective and thus doesn’t always have super hard and fast rules. However these 8 tips and tricks will help you step up your typography game and take it to the next level.
1. Limit Your Fonts
One of the common slipups I see with new designers or DIYers is using too many fonts and styles. I tend to limit to just two to three typefaces. One font and size for the body, another for the header, and another for the subhead. Either that or I use two different typefaces but multiple weights within one of the two typefaces. Using too many fonts makes the design look overwhelming for the viewer and honestly on the unprofessional side for a business.
2. Correct alignment is KEY
Alignment is SO important in typography. Many non-designers tend to choose between Center Aligned and Justified, which can make paragraphs difficult to read. Justified (the line of text stretches all the way across and it flush on both margins) is an especially bad choice (and one that I see SO much) for the mobile version of websites. The giant spaces you see between words makes reading the paragraph super difficult and a bit of an eye sore. Left alignment, aka Flushed Left, is the most common position used in practically everything because it’s easy on the eyes. Of course you can always play around to change things up but just make sure it’s easy to read and not difficult on the eyes.
Hierarchy in typography is a great way to stress importance of certain lines of type over others. Proper hierarchy establishes the order in which the audience interprets information from the design aka it guides the order in which their eyes move across the piece/page. Here’s a couple key way to achieve hierarchy:
4. Font Pairing
Finding fonts that pair well together always helps your design stand out and look appealing. On the flip side, using too many fonts can make it look like a bit of a mess. That, or working with two very similar fonts can translate as a mistake on your part. Choose fonts that compliment each other and don’t detract from the overall design.
Whatever you design, make sure people can easily read your message since this is (or should be) the overall goal. One trend that I’ve been seeing quite a bit that I just can’t get behind is overly using a scripty font (especially on websites). Using a script font for a word or phrase here or there is great! However when you have an entire paragraph of script it is SO HARD to read.
I don’t know how many times I got notes to improve my kerning in design school, but needless to say it has become an utmost priority for me. So what even is kerning? Kerning is fine-tuning the space between individual letters. It may not sound too important, but an excellent kerning job makes a world of difference. The goal is to make sure that the space between each character is aesthetically pleasing which sometimes needs to be done manually and not left exactly as how it looks when first typed out.
Tracking adjusts the spacing between letters evenly across the whole word. This is especially helpful when working with type that is set in all-caps. Typically all-caps often looks better with more space, especially if you are using a heavier weight of font. However too much or too little tracking can make your text difficult to read which is why finding that sweet spot is so important.
Leading is a term that describes the distance between each line of text. How you space your leading can affect readability. There is a fine line between type being too close together and too far apart. Unfortunately there is no perfect, magic formula for determining how much leading you will need, but as a general rule, the starting point for leading is usually the same as the point size of the font you are using.
I hope this list was informative and helpful, happy type setting friends!
© Creatively by Colleen | Designed in house by Creatively by Colleen (duh).
Based in Colorado, available worldwide.