The Golden Rules of Typography


What do you know about typography? When it comes to branding, typography matters quite a bit. The typeface, negative space, alignment, height…it all communicates subtle messages to your customers.

It’s the body language of words. As an element of design, it can be used to guide the eye, giving visual cues. Which, in turn, is why it’s important to pay attention to since it can easily turn into a hot mess.

Typography Matters

Typography is the art of arranging text in a way that’s both appealing and easy to read. A typeface is the design of the “type” aka the font (ex: bold or italic).

And it really can be quite technical. You’ve considerations between serifs, cap height, x-height, letter spacing, stroke contrasts, etc. Even the negative space is part of typography and can make or break the effect of your overall design language.

It’s okay if you don’t know the ins and outs of what makes a font work. There are, however, some golden rules of typography that every brand should follow when it comes to their type design.

One Font, Two Typefaces

To create a clear copy that guides the eye through a design, decide on one font and be consistent. You’ll want one that can be used for display purposes (headings) and the other to be more functional (body copy).

You can play with the weights of the fonts. Reserve heavier weights for display purposes (headings and titles) and lighter weights for functional purposes (body copy). For one, the heavier weights stand out more. Then, lighter weights are easier to read when there’s a lot of type in one place. A good rule of thumb is to skip a weight – this creates contrast. For example, if you’re using light for body copy, use bold for headings (skip medium).

When in Doubt, Align Left

Unless you have a specific reason, align type to the left axis. We read left to right. Thus, when we meet new text, regardless of its purpose, we’re going to naturally progress through said text from left to right. And for that matter, top to bottom.

When you break this flow, it needs to be purposeful. For example, you might align center to make a particular piece of text stand out, letting readers know something is different about it. But again, that’s already part of the mental model users expect from the text.

Like this. You’ll notice this in a skim.

So. Let’s use this a little more purposefully.

Read more on mental models and the psychology of design here.

More often than not – don’t break the natural progression. This’ll keep readability higher regardless of what else you’ve got going on. And regardless of which axis you’re aligning to, make sure they all align to the same one.

Use Spacing to Create Organization

This one is quite simple. Content that’s close together, is interpreted as related to one another. Think about it… it’s how we know which letters create what words, what words create sentences, paragraphs, sections, etc.

So the golden rule? What goes together is kept close together. Mind the gap.

If you’ve ever looked at a page and not know where to start reading or were turned off by the layout – the culprit was probably the spacing. Your eye didn’t know where to start.

Your Typography Should Match Your Brand

You’ve to think about who you’re and how you want to be perceived in every corner of your brand. It might be weird to think about but the way your words are formatted play a role in the visual you create. It’s not just about what you’re saying, it’s how what you’re saying is formatted.

The shapes of the letters, their weights, the angles of each stroke – these all create different tones. They speak for different brand identities. Pick one font that represents your brand – and stick to it. Don’t mix and match.

Be a Rule-Follower

We believe in the power of typography. Whether people consciously realize it or not, they’re affected by the typography of a page. You never want the type to distract from what you are trying to say with your words. Stick to these golden rules and you’ll be…well, golden.

See Also:

Give Your Website Oxygen and Room to Breathe with Whitespace

Does Your Brand Standout? Why Differentiation Matters

Why Brand Aesthetics Play a Major Role in Shaping Online Opinion of Your Business

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