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Typography Rules of Editorial Design

TYPOGRAPHY

Using typography properly can take your designs from amateur to professional. Typography is a huge skill set that graphic designers spend years studying, so knowing how to use type to enhance your design will bring you one step closer to looking like a pro.

Rule #1 Flush Left. Setting type the correct way can be tricky, so when in doubt, set type flush left rag right. In Western culture, people read from top to bottom, left to right. By justifying type left, the eye can find the edge and read copy much more easily. Avoid identity the first line of a paragraph.

Rule #2 Use One Typeface. Without an understanding of the chosen typefaces, it can be difficult to use two typefaces successfully within a layout. In general, avoid using two typefaces of the same classification. For example, do not use two sans serifs, serif, slab serif or script faces together. Using the different classifications will create more contrast.

Rule #3 Skip a Weight. The key to great design is contrast. Go from light to bold, or from medium to extra bold when changing font weights. Slight changes in weight make it harder for the audience to notice the difference. Try mixing bold for the headline and light for the body copy for greater contrast.

Rule #4 Double Point Size. A good rule of thumb when changing point sizes, is to double or half the point size you are using. For example, if you are using 30 pt. type for the headline, use 15 pt. type for the copy.

Rule #5 Limit Your Fonts. When you need more than one typeface, make sure you limit to using two or three that work well with each other. Use one font and size for the body, another for the header and another for the subhead.

Rule #6 Get a Handle on “Widows” and “Orphans.” A widow is a line of text that is part of a paragraph, but has shifted over to the next column. An orphan is basically the same with the exception that there’s one word left on its own. Manually edit the text length to eliminate this problem.

Rule #7 Prioritize Readability. Whatever you are designing, make sure your audience can read your message. Whether that’s choosing the right font or font size, readability is important.

Rule #8 Large Text Must be Kerned. Kerning is the process of changing the space in between two letters. You change this space to get a visually even overall impression. If you zoom into your text, you will find that the space between some letters seems to be shorter or bigger than between others. Kern the letters to get a uniform word.

Typography can be your number one design element. You can create contrast and hierarchy following these simple typography rules and lead the reader through your text. A quick tip at the end: it usually helps to print out your design. You might see little faults more clearly than on a computer screen. Now that you have learned the rules, go break some.

Graphic Created by Lyubov Sheremeta

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