09 Apr 20 Typography Rules Every Designer Must Know
Typography is one of the most important and gratifying components of graphic designing. Regardless of how experienced a designer you’ve become, it’s always helpful to recharge your mind about the principles of typography. Try to learn specific things like the origin of a particular font or the structure of a typeface since stuff like this can enrich the meaning of your design. It’s quite impressive, especially to your potential clients, when you know your craft. Also, as a designer, it’s your responsibility to know the ins and outs of typography. Once you know the rules, it’s easier for you to break them!
As with any skill or trade, you need to learn specific rules and guidelines before you can fully develop and expand your skill set. Here are 20 of what experts consider to be the most crucial principles of the art of typography.
- The Basics.
The first step to more effective typography is to study the nitty-gritty of the art. If you’re new to its principles, you may think typography is just a straightforward practice. The truth is, it’s pretty complicated because it’s a combination of art and science.
The composition of a typeface consists of specific vocabulary, accurate measurements, and interior specifications that should always be identified and taken into consideration. Like with different design forms, you can pull off breaking a rule only if you know it by heart. Also, it’s just acceptable if you carry it out on purpose to create something of significance. To get a better grip on the basics of typography, spend time studying and learning the art.
- Font Communication.
Typeface selection is hardly a random process. Merely searching through your font catalogue to choose a font you like rarely create an efficient result. This is because there’s psychology linked to certain typefaces. When designing, you need to make sure your type is connecting to your audience. This is more than just making sure that your copy is impeccably written. It’s also about ensuring that the font you use fits your market.
You wouldn’t use fancy and rainbow-coloured fonts for a law firm brochure because that would be better suited for a birthday invitation.
A sloppy kerning job is one of the cardinal sins in the design world. It’s a crucial skill you must nail down as soon as possible. Kerning is the act of fine-tuning the space between characters to produce a streamlined, unified pairing. It doesn’t sound too critical, but an excellent kerning job makes a world of difference. Its primary goal is to ensure that the space between each character is aesthetically even to create well-arranged text.
Also, programs like Adobe Illustrator can only do so much to fix your kerning blunders automatically. These errors are often subtle, especially with long sentences or paragraphs. However, for headlines or logos, a bad kerning job can instantly ruin the whole design.
- Limit Fonts.
One of the familiar slipups designers – especially newbies – do is using too many fonts and styles. If you need more than one, make sure to limit your fonts to just two to three typefaces. Use one font and size for the body, another for the header, and another for the subhead. Don’t hesitate to choose fonts from different typeface families, as long as there is cohesiveness in the pairing. Working with two very similar fonts can translate as a mistake on your part. Some would think you’re not careful enough and accidentally used the wrong font.
- Practice Alignment.
Alignment is an essential concept in typography. Many non-designers tend to choose between Center Aligned and Justified, which makes paragraphs quite hard to read. If you’ve used MS Word, you’re already familiar with the four key alignment options: Left Aligned, Center-Aligned, Right Aligned, and Justified.
Left alignment is the most common position used in practically everything because it’s easy on the eyes. Using right alignment to get text nicely arranged on one side only works if the alignment is used correctly. Justified is usually a nightmare for designers.
With both Left Aligned and Right Aligned, watch out for broken lines. These lines are also quite obvious when Center Aligned is misused. When you see loads of “bumps” in your text, try adjusting the length of the lines.
- Visual Hierarchy.
Typographic hierarchy is the way you stress the significance of individual lines of type as opposed to others. As a result, you establish and move the order in which the audience receives information from the design. This is done by guiding the movement of their eyesight through a visual hierarchy. Without using typographic hierarchies, it becomes challenging for readers to identify essential pieces of information within the whole design promptly.
It can’t be emphasised enough how critical it is to understand and use a design grid. Working with a grid ensures that every little thing on the page is put concerning something else to produce logical and visual harmony. It’s what makes everything look cohesive and interconnected.
You don’t have to use grids every time you create something. However, it benefits you a lot if you understand how and why grids are used, particularly when typography is involved.
- Smart Pairing.
It is possible to make your layout a lot more compelling through typeface pairing. Then again, using too many fonts at the same time can result in everything turning into a distraction. Not to mention, multiple fonts can confuse the audience on which elements of the design are the most important.
In general, you should only use a maximum of three fonts per design: the title, the subhead, and the body of the text. You get an exception if your design text is long. In this case, you can choose one or two more fonts.
- Secondary Font.
Font pairing is essential to the readability of your design. When you have both a heading and a subhead, use two different typefaces that complement each other to establish visual hierarchy. The challenge with font pairing is to avoid using two different fonts or two very similar fonts where you can barely see a distinction. The second font must be as captivating as the primary typeface without losing the overall uniformity or consistency of the design.
Typographic measuring is used to illustrate the full width of a block of text. Measurement is particularly important when designing a website. Not all fonts are equal, which means different fonts take up different space rations on a web page.
The height of a character is referred to as its “x-height.” When you pair fonts, make sure that they have the same “x-height.” The width of a character is called the “set width.” This is what covers the entire body of one letter, plus space right after it. A “point system” is the arrangement generally used to measure fonts.
Whatever you design, make sure people can easily read your message. This means dark text on a dark background is a big no-no. Even worse, avoid using a small font over a high-contrast image. You can have a striking design, but all your efforts will go to waste if your text is unintelligible.
- Font Palette.
Colour is one of the most powerful tools of a designer. It only makes sense that a carefully set up colour scheme is needed to complete a design. When putting together a font palette, dig into the colour theory to pinpoint the right colours intended for your design. For example, orange is thought to increase appetite, which explains why the sand colour is widely used in fast food design.
There are specific rules and guidelines in terms of colours. Also, while playing around and thinking outside the box can produce a one-of-a-kind, punchy design, make sure your font colours are not too distracting, making your message confusing.
One of the easiest ways to take your design to the next level is to identify and wipe out fillers. A typographical filler is a line of text that is part of a paragraph but has shifted over to the next column. It also may be an exception that there’s only a single word left on its own. It’s almost inevitable for fillers to show up in any type-centred designs, so you must know how to deal with them correctly.
There are several techniques to manage fillers. You can do a manual text editor to modify the length of the lines to eliminate the problem. You can also adjust the text box or the column size to enable the type to manoeuvre around the fillers.
- Stretching Fonts.
This is an elementary rule often overlooked by many designers, even the pros. In general, fonts are created with meticulous attention to the details (shapes and measurements) of every letterform. Stretching a font takes away its efficiency and value.
A common reason people stretch their fonts is to make them a bit taller or more comprehensive. There’s a way to do this without distorting the typeface. You can choose tall or wide fonts from the seemingly endless supply of fonts online. Some come with a price, others are for free.
- White Space.
White space is a distinctive and valuable tool that can bring out something special from your design. A smartly-used white space provides several beneficial effects. It helps put more focus on a particular part of your composition. It lets the design ‘breathe.’ It stabilises design components. It adds a level of sophistication to the design effortlessly.
Without adding a new element, white space can convey multiple meanings to the design. Let’s say you’re designing a poster for noise-cancelling headphones. By directly placing the headphones on the canvas without additional elements, the white space highlights the gadget. It lets the headphones be the sole focus of the design. More than that, the white space visually translates how the device cancels outside noise because there are no other elements added.
- The Art of Typography.
Quit thinking of typography as just the font used on the text complementary to your design. Fonts are carefully fashioned and thus requires a level of artistry that becomes a valuable advantage to your design toolbox. This is beyond constructing plain text. It’s about treating fonts as a form of art. To produce a one-of-a-kind, text-centred design, think of how you can make eye-catching fonts as the design hero.
Also, don’t feel like the composition of existing typefaces limits you. Explore and expand your search to find the perfect one that will suit your needs. Then add swirls, textures, lines, and anything else cool, quirky, or fun to elevate the look and feel of the font.
- Be Trendy.
At times, a design is like fashion with its never-ending fads and gimmicks. Trends come and go. Today, they are hugely popular; tomorrow, they are forgotten. Also, once the lustre of the trend is gone, everything curated around it quickly becomes outdated and ineffective.
New design styles and methods fluctuate too. Some designers are quick to jump on the bandwagon since a new trend is exciting and easy to copy. However, as quickly as trends dominate the design world, they also leave abruptly. So the logo you just created a year ago that’s supposed to last for many years is now considered dull and old-fashioned.
You must also be aware of the font trends that dominate your niche. Monitor popular ones and study them to understand why they become prevalent. Considering the trends means learning how to analyse design components. Try to size them up, but avoid jumping aboard any bandwagon without careful consideration.
- Right Tools.
In the same way that a carpenter wouldn’t use a screwdriver to hammer a nail, a designer must know what tools fit the task. Even more importantly, you must know what tools you shouldn’t touch. There are a lot of typography programs available online to help you determine the best tools for specific procedures. Adobe designs the most popular ones. Keep in mind that paid tools can be a bit pricey, so make a product comparison to know which tools you need to buy and which ones you can bypass.
- Grammar Rules.
Grammar can be a confusing and tricky design component since there are tons of hidden rules you may not be aware of. Making an effort to find out and learn the design-oriented grammar rules can help you create a professional-looking design. The three grammar pitfalls you must pay extra attention to are ampersands, double spaces after punctuation, and hyphens and dashes.
There are various guidelines for design-specific sentence structure. Also, while it may seem like a trivial thing to know, most designers would claim otherwise. Correct grammar is a subtle but potent tool that can elevate your design to an entirely new level of professionalism as it displays a keen attention to detail.
Just like everything else in life, having inspiration goes a long way. The best way to learn how to create efficient and appealing typography is to study existing typeface illustrations. Figure out what makes them engaging and effective.
You can find tons of articles online about design inspiration. However, the World Wide Web is not just the only place to get you inspired. You can spark the flame of your passion with your surroundings. Try to spot fonts — and graphics — that catch your attention, things that make you want to step up your game.
Bonus tip: Practice.
Constant practice sharpens your skills. Knowing typography rules and guidelines can improve practically everything you design that has a critical typographic component. Practising these rules over and over helps you to master them quickly. It’s only through actual training that you get to understand how each rule works entirely.
Keep in mind that these rules are meant to guide and help you produce great typography. As you go along, you’ll discover that you can create magnificent work by blatantly breaking one or more of these principles. It’s when you can push the boundaries to create something spectacular.
The time you understand a design rule entirely is a time when you have the permission and authority to break it. Just be sure that the disregard is far from being random, but rather, carried out with a purpose to attain a specific typographical goal.
Source: Typography by Creative Markets