Let's Talk About Type, Baby.

An example of text that is kerned poorly. Notice the huge gap between the letters in the words with less letter. This happens when you justify text. 

An example of text that is kerned poorly. Notice the huge gap between the letters in the words with less letter. This happens when you justify text. 

Graphic designers usually have a reputation for being typography snobs, I am admittedly one of those snobs! Typography is more than just letters on a page, it's purpose is to not only be pleasing to the eye but also be legible and get the message of your brand across.

In business today there are so many applications that allow you to throw together quick little promo pieces that highlight your business, these apps are awesome you don't have to hire a graphic design for every little thing. But, and there's always a but, when designing for your business you need to keep your design standards in mind as well as use best practices when it comes to things like typography, otherwise you run the risk of looking sloppy and nobody buys a sloppy product. 

In this blog post I will go over some type basics as well as big time type no no's and some of my favorite type combinations. 

Type Basics

There have been classes taught, books written and lectures given about typography, since you're not a typographer or graphic designer we will cover the very basics to keep in mind when using type in your DIY promo materials. 

Kerning

Simply put, kerning is adjusting the space between each letter of a word. Why is it important? It helps the reader read the word smoothly without interruption. For the purposes you will be applying type in your DIY materials you will commonly come across the need to Kern when using justified alignment. It is best to use "Optical Kerning" if you have that option in the application you are using. 

Leading

This is the space between the bottom of each letter of successive lines of type (Think double or single spacing). Leading is important because it helps with flow of reading. If your leading is too large, especially in headlines your text will seem disjointed and it will be hard for your reader to understand your message. 

Alignment

There are four basic typographic alignments:

Flush Left: The straight edge of the paragraph box is aligned to the left margin of the page, this is the most common alignment. 
Flush Right: The straight edge of the paragraph is aligned to the right margin of the
page. This is good for posters, headlines and pull quotes. You don't want to use this for larger pieces of text, limit it to one paragraph. 
Centered: Text is aligned down the center margin of the page. Limit this alignment to things like invitations, poems and headlines. Having a ragged right and left edge makes it hard for the viewer to read the text continuously.
Justified: The is when both the left and right margins of the text box are straight. You will find justified text most commonly in the newspaper. Justified text can cause a lot of problems with kerning and it is not recommend you use this unless you know how to set type. 

Font Families

Most fonts come with a few variations, like Bold, Italic, Light etc. These are known as font families. Using the same font family but with a different variation is a good way to keep your promo materials looking clean and professional. For example, use a BOLD headline to grab attention and a italic subheading placed delicate underneath it. 

Font Style

There are a history books full of font styles but the most common ones we have today below:

It is important not to mix too many font styles, stick to two, three if absolutely necessary. Too many styles looks messy and unprofessional.

To Wrap Things Up

  • It is best to keep your type clean and simple.
  • Limit your style options to two choices, three if absolutely necessary. 
  • If you have type standards for your company brand, stick to them! It will only confuse people if you use a bunch of random font styles that do not relate to your brand. Consistency is key. 
  • Have fun! Playing with type is great, there is so much you can do to get your companies messages across and even better you save money by doing it yourself! 
Hayley FeddersComment