How to get really good at typography in one month

How to get really good at typography in one month

Jul 10, 2017 · 3 min read

This quickie article is going to shine the spotlight on five sites that I believe showcase great use of typography! I’m a beginner UI student, so I have quite a lot to learn about the vast world of type. I’ve been given the assignment to comb the interwebs for some examples of awesome typography. Even though I’m no expert, I’ve found 5 sites where it’s easy to see that the use of typography rises above the norm.

How to get really good at typography in one month

When we first land on t h is website, the gaze of the lovely lady in the purple box leads our direction to the right. The words used are minimal, leading to an uncluttered page. The contrasting colour of the text and the highly legible sans serif font choice make it clear what our call to actions are and where our attention should be going.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Sometimes simplicity is key. The large graphic in the centre is highly contrasting from the background and will catch the viewers eye first. It points upwards, at the text which states the name of the website. Though the font is rather small in size, the increased kerning adds a stylistic effect which gives it a unique flavour. The “Hire me” button is small and almost tucked away. It is hard to miss, however, due to the clever use of empty space.

How to get really good at typography in one month

A dark muted background creates the perfect environment for your text to steal the show. The bright, contrasting yellow colour commands attention. The clever use of the “-” and the extended ascender on the “d” add flare and creates an aesthetic symmetry. Reminiscent of a tape cassette, the text aligns with the theme of vintage music. The replacement of the “w” in rewind with the

How to get really good at typography in one month

The swimmer’s bright suit quickly sets her apart from the dull background. Her arm extends out behind the text, almost acting as a highlight. Thick, clear, bolded black text adds drama to this overall minimalistic website.

How to get really good at typography in one month

A great use of negative space and typesetting makes this website one of my picks. I’m a fan of literal imagery, and the use of black and white is definitely literal here. The overall minimalistic nature of this page really highlights the central text and makes their motto the focus. The navigation bar is also highly legible and easy to understand.

Well, that’s it for today! Thanks for making it to the end of my list and hopefully your eyes have been rejuvenated after feasting on some beautiful design!

How to get really good at typography in one monthReally good typography can be deceptively hard to achieve. Most people don’t take enough time to consider the balance between different layout elements, text hierarchy and spacing. This leads to a lot of “just typed up in Microsoft Word” looking documents. They might work just fine, but definitely don’t give customers the polished, professional impression you want to aim for.

So here are just 5 typography tips to consider when working with text that will help ensure your website, marketing material, forms and social media pictures all look carefully-considered and easy on the eyes.

Typography tip #1: Limit the number of typefaces

It can be easy to get carried away with the number of typefaces you want to use. (Especially if you’re like me and occasionally go on font sprees and download about 20 new ones at once.) However, using more than a couple different typefaces can often look messy and amateurish.

A good rule to follow is using no more than two. Make sure you’ve got a tidy, highly-readable one for body text, and then a nice, contrasting display font for headings. That doesn’t mean you have to go really fancy! If you’re not confident about choosing fonts, then more minimal sans-serifs give you an option that will be beautiful and timeless.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Typography tip #2: Create a visual hierarchy

Once you have your font choices, you want to think about things like size, weight and spacing in your typography. Think about how to use these components to make your copy as clear and readable as possible.

Make sure there is a clear contrast between your headings, subheadings and body text. Captions can also require another level in the visual hierarchy. This makes it easy for the reader to follow what they’re reading, and to pick up important information at even just a glance.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Typography tip #3: Watch readability

Readability here refers to how comfortable and easy it is for someone to read words and lines of text. It’s not to be confused with “legibility” which refers to whether it’s possible to make out what is written. Beautiful script typefaces, for example, might be perfectly legible, but reading a lot of it can become pretty tiring for the eye. Same goes for long blocks of text in all-caps.

Visual hierarchy (from the second point in this post) goes a long way to help readability. There are a couple of other things to take into consideration too.

  • Font size – Text that is set too big might look clunky and unattractive, but at lease you can see what it says. There’s a problem that I think is all-too-common on many sites these days with teeny tiny text that might pass a test of readability, but not by much. When you’re designing, you have to try your best to design in a way that is accessible for everyone! Including those of us with poor eyesight.
  • Colour choices – Make sure there is a good level of contrast between the background colour and the colour of your typography. Like the point above about font size, some people can see contrast between colours less easily than others. Stay on the safe side and keep type clear!
  • Leading and tracking – Leading (line height) is the vertical space between lines of text, while tracking (letter spacing) is the spacing between characters. More leading can make long paragraphs easier to read, but don’t add too much tracking in paragraphs. Instead, tracking can be a nice way to style headings and other short lines of text. Decreasing tracking can be a solution to avoiding widows and orphans (more on than in the next point), but make sure the letters don’t start running into each other.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Typography tip #4: Use grids to align your text

Good layout design often starts with a grid. You can think of a grid as invisible lines tying the various elements on a page together. It helps to create consistency and provides a solid foundation for building your visual hierarchy.

If you’re no professional graphic designer, don’t feel the need to get too caught up in grid theory! Just know that having your typography line up nicely looks more pleasing to the eye.

Something else to look out for when dealing with paragraphs are widows and orphans. Widows are single words trailing at the bottom of a paragraph. Orphans are a single word trailing at the top of the next column or page. They tend to break up a nice layout design by leaving so much empty space. Where possible, try re-wording sentences or use tracking to avoid leaving widows and orphans.

That being said, in today’s world of responsive web design and different screen sizes, it’s impossible to avoid them altogether. Don’t go too crazy trying to stop them from happening on your website.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Typography tip #5: Check your spelling and grammar

Lastly, although I’ve given you lots of think about when it comes to laying out your text, this point is still probably the most important. Nothing screams “unprofessional” like typos, bad sentence structure and incorrect punctuation. And there’s also nothing worse than finding a mistake after you’ve sent something to print or uploaded it onto your social media page. So before that can happen, be sure to read through every line of text, and run spell-check to help catch anything you might have missed!

How to get really good at typography in one monthI hope these tips help you when it comes to designing the look of your website, blog posts, forms, newsletters or anything else! Remember to stick to your brand identity as well. Use consistency in the typefaces you use, and the colours you choose. Good luck with your designs!).

Do you have any other typography tips that I didn’t mention?

How to get really good at typography in one month

Headings, body text, line spacing, font choice, print versus digital — the world of typography is big and beautiful. Learning the art of lettering and text is essential to good design, and spending some time getting to know your subject is a joyful part of that process. No need to scour the streets and internets looking for inspiration — these blogs are places we go to get our fill of fonts, typography worship and discussion/news.

In no particular order;

FRIENDS OF TYPE

for: hand lettering

Mostly featuring hand lettering, Friends of Type is an original typographic design and lettering sketchbook and archive from four designer friends. Each post is a creation intended as an expression of the contributors, to inspire ideas and readers. Every month a guest designer is featured, chosen by the team as someone they admire and are inspired by. The best bit is the full-page images; the lack of thumbnails makes Friends of Type a lush visual experience.

FONTS IN USE

for: real font examples

This excellent archive of fonts out in the real world is great for seeing theory in practice; how do fonts behave in the wild? The website is split into ‘Collection’ and ‘Blog’, the latter serving as an expert critique of fonts used across industries. Search parameters include formats, industry and typefaces, and many examples include a write-up delving into the exploration of why that particular font was picked for the project.

TYPE TOKEN

for: typography and icons

This is a collaboration between two graphic designers and a web developer, aiming to be a source of inspiration and stimulation for the design community. Featuring contributions from designers around the globe, typetoken showcases, discusses and reviews the world of typography, icons and visual language. Both mainstream and experimental typography and iconography appears on here, so it’s great for inspiration and staying current.

TYPOGRAPHY SERVED

INCREDIBLE TYPES

Incredible Types is a carefully curated smorgasbord of exceptional typography and design from around the world. The website cites 436 pieces of design inspiration in the collection, from 432 contributors and studios, hailing from 42 countries. That’s a lot of numbers; all you really need to know is this mostly-print-lettering grid beautiful displays typographic excellence. Each thumbnail looks stunning in black and white, coming to life with warmth and colour when you hover over each image. Also features an extensive range of tags to search by.

TYPE TOY

for: typography, design and vintage

Not strictly a typography blog (the name threw us off a little), this awesome blog is more of a graphic/typography visual wonderland. There is endless inspiration from vintage packaging, recent branding and print design. TypeToy is definitely a great resource to get your brain fresh and thinking outside the font for any typography task you’re facing.

TYPE WOLF

for: picking fonts for projects

Typewolf is like a font garden for web designers and developers to go and pick their choice for a project. Big, clear pictures showcasing fonts clearly, as well as demonstrating actual websites featuring that font are really useful for seeing how they look and feel. There’s background info about the font and personal recommendations for similar fonts, as well as cool articles like “The Ten Most Popular Web Fonts of 2015 (And Fonts You Should Consider Using Instead)”. Also — free stuff. We all love free stuff.

THE DIELINE

for: packaging design

Disappointed about the lack of packaging design inspo out there, Andrew Gibb created The Dieline to get designers sharing, reviewing and generally drooling over awesome packaging. The website now is still great for that, and a whole lot more cool stuff — The Dieline International Awards (based on creativity, marketability, and innovation), a designer directory and a job board. Definitely worth checking out.

THE FONT SHOP

for: typography, testing fonts

Previously FontFeed, FontShop News is the geekfest of everything typography. The team behind this site are obviously crazy for font; the 1300 word article on the fonts of Stars Wars is a subtle giveaway. FontShop content ranges from their favourite new fonts on the block, to best typefaces of all time and recommended font lists. Bonus points for featuring type designers, and a live rendering tool so you can test drive fonts online.

If you like the sound of words such as ‘kerning’ and ‘ligature’, Tractor’s Diploma of Graphic Design is for you. You’ll learn everything you need to become an awesome graphic designer — including typography.

The hardest and the most intimidating part of designing, for me, was setting the typeface. I started as a designer who mostly worked in print. After making a career switch in the digital direction, I had to reshape my process, especially with setting the typeface while designing for the web pages. Here I will roughly share a part of my process, starting with choosing and setting typeface.

How to get really good at typography in one month

You should continually read about typography, and refresh your typeface library from time to time. If you have too many typefaces, try making some list of fonts you actually use. Also, bookmark inspirational websites with awesome typography.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Read the content for the website so you know what the website is about, and find out what the goal of your text is. Is it a place where people come to read medium to long articles? Or is it a website where most people are expected to scan the content, looking for something particular?

Vernacular typography vernaculartypography.com

How to get really good at typography in one month

Write down what you’re looking for. Should it be easy to read, or must it have bold or italics styles? Does it only require English characters, or will the website be multi-lingual? Write down the key points and visual cues but also all the random stuff that pops into your head.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Choose typefaces with similar characteristics. Combine fonts with similar x-height. Fonts with similar x-height work better together as they have a similar visual weight.
Choose Typefaces from the same type designer. Each designer has a personal aesthetic that defines their style and because of that the fonts can usually work well together.
Put the two fonts next to each other and compare them based on their x-height, but focus more on the overall proportions.

Type Crimes thinkingwithtype.com

How to get really good at typography in one month

In my process, I am really trying to start by choosing a typeface for body text. I start by setting a paragraph of text in Sketch app with as many typefaces applied I am choosing between, and I am comparing them and trying out in the layout. At this stage, I usually go and look for fonts on Google Fonts and TypeKit.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Use real content for trying out the different typefaces, if your client didn’t send out the content use similar text which you found on a competitor website or similar web pages.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Try the typefaces you consider using in your design in different sizes, colours and different browsers. The content will be displayed as a part of the website in multiple browsers and each has a different way of rendering fonts.

At the end of the article I will leave few useful resources to get an idea of how to preview and try out typefaces.

How to get really good at typography in one month

The next step is to define font scale which relates to defining distances for all elements in-app or on the web. The default typographic scale is a a good place to start, but a modular scale is the best way to determine your typographic sizes.
Tim Brown (from Adobe) came up with the tool to create your own scale which is a Modular Scale.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Left-aligned text is the most common setting for left-to-right languages.
Right-aligned text is the most common setting for right-to-left languages, such as Arabic and Hebrew.
Centered text is not recommended for long copy. In most cases, centered text is used to distinguish short typographic elements within a layout and should be broken into phases with a variety of long and short lines.
Justified text is the norm for newspapers and books because of its efficient use of space. Web browsers can’t render spaces between the words for justified texts in a way proper text editors can. This makes reading very difficult, so justifying text should be avoided on the web.

Kerntype, a Kerning Game type.method.ac

How to get really good at typography in one month

By “type colour” we don’t mean an actual colour like red, green or blue. In typography, “type colour” means how dark a text set in a certain typeface appears. This is affected by the contrast of a typeface but also by its x-height and style.

How to get really good at typography in one month

After choosing the right typeface and after defining the typographic scale, I recommend creating text styles before you start designing the interfaces — of course, if you are working in Sketch, which will allow you to update with ease all layers which contain text layers.

*Continue exploring the Design Islands and you may find more tips and tricks about how to set the text styles in Sketch and many more tricks.

Typography is not a science. Typography is an art. There are those who’d like to ‘scientificize’; those who believe that a large enough sample of data will somehow elicit good typography. However, this sausage-machine mentality will only ever produce sausages. That typography and choosing type is not a science trammeled by axioms and rules is a cause to rejoice.

Before we get to the nitty-gritty of choosing type, let’s briefly talk about responsibility. Fundamentally, the responsibility we bear is two-fold: first we owe it to the reader not to hinder their reading pleasure, but to aid it; second, we owe a responsibility to the typeface or typefaces we employ. Good typefaces are designed for a good purpose, but not even the very best types are suited to every situation. Personally, I’m always a little nervous about using a newly acquired typeface. A new typeface is something like a newborn baby (though it doesn’t throw-up on you): don’t drop it, squeeze it too hard, hold it upside-down; in other words, don’t abuse it, treat it respectfully, carefully.

How to get really good at typography in one month

If you’ve understood the above two paragraphs, then you’ll know that what follows is not a set of rules, but rather a list of guiding principles.

Sans or Serif?

In my opinion, a lot of time is wasted attempting to prove that one is better than the other for setting extended text. I suggest that you ignore the vague and inconclusive findings of such ramblings and decide for yourself. Oh, but seriffed types are better for extended text because the serifs lead your eye along… Stop! Nonsense.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Rather than write another ten paragraphs on this topic, I’ll simply say that we read most easily that which we are most familiar with. (feel free to disagree in the comments below). And if you’re in any doubt as to whether sans serif typefaces can be used for body text, then turn left at the end of aisle three and make your way over to the Swiss Typography department.

Guideline One: honour content

This, of course, should be every typographer’s mantra. In fact good typographers, most likely won’t even have to consciously think about this—it’s instinctual.

[typography] is a craft by which the meanings of text (or its absence of meaning) can be clarified, honored and shared….
—Robert Bringhurst

It’s worth mentioning here that these principles are equally applicable to any medium. Some of my favorite typefaces look dreadful on screen; and even good typefaces like Georgia or Verdana, designed especially for the screen, often look at best mediocre on paper. Choosing type for the web is easier owing to fewer choices; however, that’s beginning to change. We now have sIFR and ‘web fonts’, so it’s all the more important to think carefully about the type we use. Is Times/Times New Roman—narrow set and designed for narrow columns—really appropriate for long-line extended text on screen?

Guideline Two: read it

And, no, I’m not being facetious. If you’re setting text, whether it be for a novel about the Franco-Prussian war or for a single-word headline, read it—really read it. Reading the text will give up vital clues, not only for choosing the right typeface or typefaces, but will also be an aid in the overall design of the page. An example: you’re setting text for an essay on the history of blackletter; so you set the text in blackletter, right?

How to get really good at typography in one month

Probably not. There is a place for considering the historical context; however, it would be wrong to stick rigidly to this method of choosing type. If you’re setting a text on Neanderthal man, you’re going to run into problems. (see The Elements of Typographic Style, chapter 6.3, for excellent coverage of this particular topic). On the other hand, if your only audience is the BAF (Blackletter Addicts Foundation), then perhaps blackletter is appropriate.

In addition to reading the text, one should attempt to understand it. This is not always possible. If you’re setting text for an article on String Theory or Quantum Mechanics, then perhaps full comprehension is out of the question. However, attempt to understand the thrust or theme of the text.

Guideline Three: audience and canvas

Who will read your beautifully set text? Scientists, lawyers, engineers, echo boomers, children? If it’s not obvious from the text, then find out. Historical ligatures may not go down too well with preschool kids.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Consider too the canvas, the page. Perhaps you’re setting text within someone else’s page design and you have no control over margins or page dimensions. A cramped page, with small margins may benefit from a lighter type, whereas ample margins may well merit a blacker typeface. We’ll look at this in much more detail in a future article.

Guideline Four: does it look right?

If your text’s final destination is paper, then print it and see. Your type might look exquisite on screen, but a train wreck on paper. There really is no substitute for printing. If setting for the screen, then check it on both PC and Mac, and at different resolutions (screen sizes).

And finally…

Remind yourself that typography really is an art and that many of the decisions you make, including type choice, are subjective. If you’re unsure, ask others (designers and non-designers) to read your work. And seek out examples of great typography.

In future articles we’ll look at specific case studies, and examples of serif and sans serif typefaces that work well together, together with a list of my favorite typefaces. Perhaps you have your own methods for choosing type. If you do, then be sure to share them in the comments.

How to get really good at typography in one month

PowerPoint is an excellent tool for communication used by presenters across numerous industries. And, though images are a great way to make your PowerPoint presentations memorable, at the end of the day it’s the written text that is the glue holding your message together.

This makes the typography the most important visual element in your entire presentation. How you present your type… the fonts, colors and point sizes… can make or break your entire presentation.

With this in mind, here are 7 ways you can create better typography for your PowerPoint presentation. These tips will ensure a more polished and professional-looking piece.

Go Big or Go Home

How to get really good at typography in one month

There are a few things you don’t want your audience to do during your presentation: talk, sleep, and squint. There will be certain slides that your audience will need to carefully read, so make it easy for them. Never use a point size smaller than 12, and ideally, use fonts in the 16-18 range. When your audience doesn’t have to struggle to read your text, they can pay better attention and absorb your entire message.

Make Your Headlines Bold

How to get really good at typography in one month

Headlines are meant to really grab attention, and they can hardly do that when they blend in with the text around them. While your body copy should be 16-18 point (14 if you are really having space issues) your headlines should be 20-24 point.

Let Your Text Breathe

How to get really good at typography in one month

Whether it’s in a PowerPoint slide or a newspaper article, no reader enjoys seeing big, chunky blocks of text. It causes the same anxious, exhausted feeling people get when they see a big hill they have to climb. It’s important to let your text “breathe” by adjusting the space between lines. Generally, a line spacing of 1.1 – 1.5 will open up your text and make it more inviting to read.

Do NOT Get All Fancy with Your Fonts

How to get really good at typography in one month

Many people like to get creative with their PowerPoint presentations, and often this can be a good thing. But it can also end up biting you in the you-know-what, especially if you get all fancy with your font selections. It’s best to stick with standard Serif font faces such as Arial, Verdana, and Trebuchet. The trouble with straying from these standard fonts is, should you move your presentation between computers, you could run into problems when a particular device does not have the font installed. Play it safe and go standard.

Now you may be wondering why I have not included standard Serif fonts like Times New Roman and Georgia. That is because there is now a common school of thought that, while those fonts look great in print, they are a bit harder to read on digital screens because of their more decorative nature.

Pick Contrasting Font Colors

How to get really good at typography in one month

It’s important to select font colors that contrast with the background. If your slides have a white background, black and dark versions of blue and red work really well. For dark background, plain ol’ white is your best option, though pale blues and yellow can also work quite well.

AVOID AT ALL COSTS: Any black and red combination or similar color combinations such as an orange background with yellow text, or a dark blue background with light blue text.

Don’t Use the Same Old Boring Bullet Point

How to get really good at typography in one month

Admittedly, bullet points are a great way to present important bits of information during your PowerPoint presentation, no argument there. But here is an opportunity where you can get a bit creative and gain some audience interest.

  • Make the bullet point a different color than the text. This is a great way to draw your audience members’ eyes to important text.
  • You could also make each bullet line a different color. This works particularly well when your bullets are spaced strategically throughout your slides.
  • Also, PowerPoint allows for a variety of pre-installed symbols and even imported graphics, so consider using different shapes for your bullets!

Be Consistent

How to get really good at typography in one month

The most important rule in design, no matter the medium, is consistency. Whichever way you choose to design your master template, STICK WITH IT for the entire presentation. If you decide to go with 22-point Verdana for the headline font, 18-point Arial as the body font, and colorful bullet points, use that combination throughout your entire presentation. This goes for positioning of text as well, not just size and color. Nothing screams amateur PowerPoint designer more than text fields that jump around from slide to slide.

No one said giving a presentation was easy, and I’ve clearly just illustrated there’s even more work involved than you may have originally thought. The good news is, by putting some extra thought into your PowerPoint slides and following these typography tips, you will taste success every time.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Jul 10, 2017 · 3 min read

This quickie article is going to shine the spotlight on five sites that I believe showcase great use of typography! I’m a beginner UI student, so I have quite a lot to learn about the vast world of type. I’ve been given the assignment to comb the interwebs for some examples of awesome typography. Even though I’m no expert, I’ve found 5 sites where it’s easy to see that the use of typography rises above the norm.

How to get really good at typography in one month

When we first land on t h is website, the gaze of the lovely lady in the purple box leads our direction to the right. The words used are minimal, leading to an uncluttered page. The contrasting colour of the text and the highly legible sans serif font choice make it clear what our call to actions are and where our attention should be going.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Sometimes simplicity is key. The large graphic in the centre is highly contrasting from the background and will catch the viewers eye first. It points upwards, at the text which states the name of the website. Though the font is rather small in size, the increased kerning adds a stylistic effect which gives it a unique flavour. The “Hire me” button is small and almost tucked away. It is hard to miss, however, due to the clever use of empty space.

How to get really good at typography in one month

A dark muted background creates the perfect environment for your text to steal the show. The bright, contrasting yellow colour commands attention. The clever use of the “-” and the extended ascender on the “d” add flare and creates an aesthetic symmetry. Reminiscent of a tape cassette, the text aligns with the theme of vintage music. The replacement of the “w” in rewind with the

How to get really good at typography in one month

The swimmer’s bright suit quickly sets her apart from the dull background. Her arm extends out behind the text, almost acting as a highlight. Thick, clear, bolded black text adds drama to this overall minimalistic website.

How to get really good at typography in one month

A great use of negative space and typesetting makes this website one of my picks. I’m a fan of literal imagery, and the use of black and white is definitely literal here. The overall minimalistic nature of this page really highlights the central text and makes their motto the focus. The navigation bar is also highly legible and easy to understand.

Well, that’s it for today! Thanks for making it to the end of my list and hopefully your eyes have been rejuvenated after feasting on some beautiful design!

Three key reasons why typography matters so much, possible even more than anything else on your websites or apps. There are many more reasons, of course, this is just a start.

How much does typography matter?

You probably can already imagine that I think typography matters a lot, and for a number of reasons, not just one.

Today, I’ll give you three key reasons why typography matters so much, possibly more than anything else on your websites or apps. There are many more reasons of course, this is just the start.

#1 reason why typography matters: your website has LOTS of it

Visit your own website now, and look at the elements on it.
What’s prevalent? What’s there the most of? Is it images, is it video, or colour?

I would be happy to stake a bet. Even without having ever visited your website, I am 99% sure that typography plays a big part on it.

In fact, just as humans are 70% water, I’d say that your website is 70% typography, at the very least. They say that the internet as a whole is still 95% typography, but I have no means of proving this urban legend – although it stands to reason that the percentage is quite close to reality.

What typography actually is

But what is typography? Is it just about the typefaces you’ve selected to represent you and deliver your content?
Not really: typography is so much more than selecting a typeface.

Typography is every single thing that determines how text looks.

Good typography = good UX

(with thanks to Joe Natoli for all that I learnt on the topic of UX and typography from him)

This is why typography is such an integral, important part of good user experience: it’s about treating your text as an essential element of your user interface.

If your users are unable to read your copy properly, then they are not having a good experience. And they will go somewhere else.

So the first thing you need to do is to make sure that everyone can read your typography without any problems.

#2 reason why typography matters: readability can make or break your UX

Readability refers to how easy it is to read a block of text: it’s how well you can read long chunks of copy.
There are many factors that can affect the readability of the text on a website or app:

  • The line height
  • The tracking, that is to say the distance between letters
  • The white space between and around blocks of text
  • The lenght of the lines
  • The alignment
  • And more

Readability is fundamentally an accessibility issue, so it’s essential to get it right. And yet, so many of the websites out there fail this essential requirement under one of the aspects above.
Unreadable copy means failing to comply with the law at worst, and it means a bad experience for your users at best.

For instance, Google’s line length recommendation is 60-65 characters (from Google’s Material Design guidelines). How long are the lines on your sales pages? Do you let them wander on forever on the screen? If so, I would recommend making them shorter, now.

How to get really good at typography in one month

#3 reason why typography matters: legibility is key, too

Legibility refers to how easy it is to distinguish each letter. It’s how well we see the individual characters: how we decode each symbol and assign it the intended meaning.
These factors greatly influence our ability to distinguish the letters:

  • A messy background (text on images can create serious legibility issues)
  • Low/ high contrast
  • Typeface design
  • Environmental conditions

How to get really good at typography in one monthThe Gestalt typeface presents legibility issues because many letters can be interpreted as a different symbol.

So many of the websites out there have text that is not perfectly legible. Do you use images as a background? Have you used a dark enough overlay, so that the text on top of them is legible? If you haven’t, the good news is that it’s really easy to correct it and get it right.

Want to get started with getting your typography right?

Then download our 3 Type Tips PDF to make a real headstart with minimal time investment.
You could also watch our free Intro to Typography 101 course.

Piccia Neri’s typography wisdom is the reason the conversion rate on my landing page 4x-ed overnight. Literally.

Piccia analyzed the UX and typography of my site. After implementing her type and layout suggestions, I woke up the next morning to a 400% increase in conversions on the landing page of the summit I was selling.

How to get really good at typography in one month

I’ve posted several articles here at WITS covering the tone and type of image needed for different genres of book covers, but images are only part of the overall cover puzzle. There’s something else on the cover that’s pretty darn vital…the author name and the title.

Fitting text into an allotted space is both an art and a science, one I’ve spent a lifetime perfecting. That sounds daunting, doesn’t it?

So here’s the thing…it doesn’t matter as much as you think it does.

Don’t get me wrong, the topography needs to be good. Solid. Professional. What I’m saying is it’s easier to achieve professional looking text on a book cover than it might seem at first glance. Here are some basic guidelines:

Free fonts are free for a reason.

It’s easy to get lost down the rabbit hole of free fonts available on the internet. It’s fun when you first start to explore the possibilities, but over time it quickly becomes overwhelming. There are just so many! And a lot of them look great on the display, but then when you download it and try it out, they don’t look as good. If you don’t know the difference between kerning and leading, then choosing some of those freebies might send you into a disappointment spiral. Often they need a lot of work in InDesign or Photoshop to get them to look right. If you have access to Adobe TypeKit, that’s an excellent way of getting quality fonts for commercial use (and yes, you are commercial) without spending any additional money.

Speaking of Commercial.

Licensing is important. If you downloaded a font from a freebie website, be sure to read the fine print. Most often the license they “give” you is a personal one, meaning you’re free to use it at home on something like your child’s science fair project. If you intend to sell your book, you need a commercial license. Every foundry is different in how they license, and the last thing you want is to come up against a lawsuit because you made a lot of money using a font you didn’t pay for. If you buy a font from a professional foundry, be sure you purchased the right license for your needs. If you aren’t sure, ask them. Save the license you get with the font purchase for future reference, just in case.

Classic fonts are classic for a reason.

One way to ease the stress of cover design is to realize that the subtle differences between different fonts are, well, subtle. Unless it’s a specialty display font, it’s a lot of tiny tweaks to a basic form. There’s no need to spend hours worrying about which is “just right.” At icon size, nobody will see those tiny differences.

When in doubt stick with classic, tried and true fonts and be more creative with their size/placement/treatment instead. You’ll look professional, and spend a lot less time in the font mines trying to choose. Here are some solid choices for book covers.

How to get really good at typography in one month

Less is more.

On a book cover, with such limited space, you really don’t need more than two fonts, no matter what genre you’re targeting. A good rule of thumb is one font for the title, and another for the author name (or the same font for both).

Use variations of either for any other text…subtitles, log lines, etc. If it’s a good font, and not a super freebie found somewhere in the murky depths of the internet, it will have multiple faces, from ultra fine to ultra black, for all your design needs.

Serifs are classy but pesky.

Serifs are those little bits that stick out from the main part of the letter, and they’re what makes a classy font look classy. Serif fonts are used for interior layouts of books because they are easier to read. But on a cover, with all the colors going on behind it, serifs can get lost, leaving weak text struggling to be seen. If you do go with a serif font, be sure to choose one with sturdy, solid flourishes rather than thin, reedy ones unless you’re making the text super sized.

San Serifs can be clunky.

San serif fonts lack those delicate little flourishes that serifs have so they stand up well on colorful or cluttered backgrounds, and are more legible at smaller sizes. They can, however, look a little less formal, and are surprisingly harder to read in long blocks of text.

Don’t be shy.

Since this is a marketing piece, you have to remember exactly what it is you’re selling. The book? Yes, but no. What you’re really selling is you. That means what you really want the customer (reader) to remember is not the title of your book…it’s your name!

There are varying genre conventions for the size of the author name but the general rule of thumb is, if it’s not a children’s book, then get that name on there big and proud. I always make sure I can read the author name at icon size. The more often customers see your name the more you seem familiar and the better that name recognition works on down the line.

Titles are nice, but…

It’s not nearly as important to be able to read the book title online as you might think. Every online vendor puts your cover image right next to the catalog book title and description. It’s almost never pictured alone. That means the customer glances at the image, then their eye flicks over to the text next to it. Meaning as long as you have an overall great hook, the actual legibility of the text is secondary. (I realize that typographers everywhere are probably throwing rotten fruit at me right now.)

Match your genre.

If you’re using a special display font for the title, be sure to choose one that more or less matches the genre of the book. It should work with the background image, not fight against it. A pretty handwriting font works great on romance covers, but looks horrible on thrillers. It can create a disconnect for the reader if the feel and tone of the font doesn’t match the tone of the image and the intent of the overall design.

When in doubt, stick with a classic font. They aren’t boring, they’re timeless. A classic font tells readers that the cover, and the story inside, are professional. That is the best hook.

Do you have a go-to font? What is it and where did you find it? Do you have any questions for Melinda?

About Melinda

How to get really good at typography in one month

Melinda VanLone writes urban fantasy, freelances as a graphic designer, and dabbles in photography. She currently lives in Florida with her husband and furbabies.

When she’s not playing with her imaginary friends, you can find Melinda playing World of Warcraft, wandering aimlessly through the streets taking photos, or hovered over coffee in Starbucks.

Her elementary fantasy series, House of Xannon, begins with Stronger Than Magic. And for more information on covers, visit BookCoverCorner.com.

Top photo credit: Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay