Typography Design

Tips for effectively designing with type

Expanding on our top tips for the effective use of type within design, I wanted to expand a little and jot down a few thoughts and considerations that help me when designing a facsimile and feature spreads at Wild Apple.

1. Consider the context

What are you designing and who is the target audience? These questions are a good starting point when thinking about the typographic elements of your design. Choose an appropriate set of fonts for the subject matter - a poster for an event will have different requirements, type-wise, to an educational workbook, and the fonts used can help to convey the information in the most effective way possible. Elements such as serif, sans serif, monotype and display fonts will all bring a different quality to the design and information on display.

2. Limit your font use.

Just like a colour palette, the amount of fonts present in a design should be limited to prevent the different design elements clashing and the space looking cluttered. That being said, some form of contrast can help bring dynamism to the design and help create a sense of hierarchy. If there are multiple levels of information, consider using a font family with a diverse set of weights and styles, this can add some more subtle variety, as opposed to using radically different fonts.

3. Be mindful of leading, kerning and tracking.

The spaces between your letters and lines can be as important as the letters themselves. Experimenting with, and adjusting these factors, can radically alter the legibility, rhythm and flow of how information is read. Too wide a spacing can make wording disparate and difficult to follow. Similarly, closed-up type can feel cramped and confusing. Try to find a sweet spot between the two, though it may be subtle, it will make all the difference.

4. Use alignment to your advantage

In addition to leading, kerning and tracking, alignment of type is also an important factor in how information is conveyed. In Western convention, horizontal and left to right is our natural reading order, so this can either be adhered to or challenged, depending on what you are trying to achieve. Justified type may fit column spaces more consistently, but is generally harder to read and looks less consistent, spacing wise. Centralised text works great for titles, but creates ragged column edges when used in body copy, which is again hard to follow. Pick the options that best suit the information and design.

5. Record your discoveries and experiment.

When you find a combination of typefaces that work well together, make a note of them, or create a visual reference. This allows you to refer back to occasions where fonts you have used, have been effective and help inform your choices in future projects. On the flip side of this, don’t rely too much on a particular set, otherwise your designs will begin to look too similar. It should be the qualities in the fonts that you recognise, that can help you pick new and exciting options. Type is a rich and diverse element of design, so don’t be afraid to experiment and see what is out there.

I hope you've enjoyed my deliberations, I love designing with type and feel that the right choice and use of font can make or break a design. Don't be afraid to experiment, the possibilities are endless.

Gary Puntorno


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