Typography is an essential part of most designs and much more than arranging pretty fonts on a page.
Avoid some of the common mistakes by reading our tips below:
Tracking. It’s a tempting fix: You’re short on space; you need to fit in a certain amount of text; so what do you do? You make the tracking (or letter-spacing) a little bit tighter and call it good. The problem is, when your letters are too close, it decreases readability significantly (especially when working with smaller font sizes) and makes your design look crowded.
Leading. This applies to whole lines of text, too. The spacing between lines (called leading) also affects legibility — you don’t want the spacing to be too tight or too loose; both make for hard-to-read text and a visually “off” design.
Scaling. Another rookie mistake (similar to the previous one) is stretching or condensing words to fit into a certain space. Don’t do this — it distorts the letters, giving them a shape they weren’t meant to have. When you’re scaling a text box up or down, make sure you do it proportionally.
Readability. If you want your design to attract attention, people are going to have to be able to read it clearly. Legibility issues can come in many forms — a font could be too small; the font and background colors might clash; or transparency effects might make text hard to see.
“Orphans” and “Widows”. One of the easy-to-overlook errors that can happen when working with paragraphs of text is something called “orphans” and “widows.” They’re basically just typographical lingo to refer to words or short lines that appear by themselves at the top or bottom of a column or page of text, separated from the rest of the copy. It’s an easy fix: just manually change where the line breaks, or adjust line length or tracking slightly.
Double-Spacing. One more copy-related tip: don’t double-space between sentences. Even though many of us grew up learning to type placing two spaces after a period/full-stop, that practice is now considered outdated and unnecessary. Plus, double-spacing creates visual breaks in a block of text that interrupt readers’ flow.
Fonts. Some designs call for a decorative mix of typefaces, but most won’t. The majority of design projects benefit from a limited number of fonts — two or three is a good rule of thumb. Sticking to a more conservative approach to typography keeps your design looking clean and organized instead of cluttered and chaotic.
Content. The next step after pairing fonts that work well together is making sure the style of those fonts match the content of your project. Fonts can have different “moods” — playful, serious, elegant, casual, modern, vintage. But when those moods don’t support the purpose of your design, you create a visual disconnect, and it’s confusing for your viewers. This is more of an exercise in common sense than anything: a business report will probably need a conservative, neutral font, but a children’s book cover might have a fun, cheerful font. Typefaces like this, ones with strong “personalities,” are often referred to as display fonts. You should use these sparingly and for a specific purpose.
Alignment. Consistency is one of the most important considerations when aligning text; just take a little time to make sure all your text is arranged in an orderly, logical way. You don’t want some paragraphs left-aligned, some center, and some right. And you should generally avoid justified alignment altogether. Because, although those straight edges do look nice, it’s what’s in between that causes problems. Justified alignment almost always creates irregular spacing and random chunks of white space that look sloppy and make reading difficult.
Final Check. This is more a practical consideration than strictly design-related, but an important one nonetheless. Doing a final read-through of your text, checking for spelling and grammar errors (as well as any typographical mistakes) should always be a part of your design process. Unfortunately, even unintentional errors can make your project look unprofessional and possibly give your audience a negative perception of your message or company.