Some Quick Guidelines for Better Typography

Arkonaplatz type

When I was in college, I could never finish Wuthering Heights. I knew that Emily Brontë was supposed to be (is!) a great writer, and I liked her sisters’ novels well enough, but could not make my way through this book. It was pretty annoying. Then, at some point, I was at a friend’s place for the weekend, and they had a different edition of Wuthering Heights than the tight, crowded discount paperback I’d been failing to read well. The clouds lifted, I was absorbed, and felt better about the universe and my place in it.

Document design matters! Evan Snider and George have written on ways that designing with accessibility in mind can make a document more readable, which is certainly true.

A key aspect to anyone’s experience of a text is the type. Saturday Night Live reminded us of just this a week or so ago:

But a lot of thinking about typography is . . . muddled. Just in February I learned that even the much-maligned Comic Sans is not so bad.

Into this breach steps Pierrick Calvez with “A Five Minutes Guide to Better Typography (via LoopInsight). Calvez mixes text, pictures, and gifs to illustrate, not exactly rules, but certainly guidelines for using type to communicate more effectively.

His core advice is simply stated (although I’m breaking his lovely formatting in this space):

  • Don’t nerd over typefaces, just pick one
  • Think type as blocks
  • Align with your eyes
  • Hierarchy first
  • Use contrast
  • Fine-tune with spacing

To feel the effect of these ideas, it really is helpful to read the whole thing!

Do you have a favorite guide to typography for non-designers? Please share in comments!

Photo “Arkonaplatz Type” by Flickr user Matt Biddulph / Creative Commons licensed BY-SA-2.0

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