Typography for Web Vs. Typography for Print

Typography is a powerful tool in marketing, design, and media, it helps get your message across and allows readers to enjoy what they are reading. It is often said that "good typography can't be seen," meaning if the viewer is paying more attention to the font you used or the font is unreadable it is not doing its job. 

As a business owner, there may come a time when you have to create a quick promo flier or make changes to your company website. In that case, it may be helpful to know that there are some general differences between the typography you choose for your printed materials versus the typography you use online. 

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Serifs
Serifs are the little lines that hang off the end of some letters, think Times New Roman. Serifs help the reader guide their way through a sentence making reading faster and easier, that is why in print materials you want to try and use a typeface that has a serif for any text inside a paragraph. The opposite goes for online type. When you select a text font for the web you want to use a san serif font (without serif), think Arial. The sans serif type prevents the letters from blending together because the resolution on a computer screen is much lower than in print. 

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Alignment
There are a few different ways to align your text. The two most common ways to display text are flush left and justified. In Print design, using justified text is okay if your design calls for it or your are trying to achieve a certain look, but it can create gaps in your sentences and slow the reader down. Online it is best to avoid using justified type all together. It can be really difficult to create columns big enough to avoid the big gaps justified text leaves in a paragraph and it inevitably slows the reader down. The best option to choose is flush left, this lets the viewer read easily from left to right. Flush left is also the best option to choose when aligning your text online.

There are more general rules to apply when using type in design but remembering these two differences are the most important when using typography for the web verse typography for print.

Web Type
San Serif Font
Flush Left

Print Type
Serif Font
Flush Left or occasionally Justified 

To discuss more about this topic please contact me.