Ensure that your typography hits all the right notes with these 10 tips that every designer needs to know
Take your time
Picking the perfect typefaces can take a lot of work. Don’t get into the practice of choosing the same ones over and over again. It’s easy to start using your personal ‘defaults’ or favourite pairings. Spend time discovering new options. And spend time developing your own little nuances in the way that you treat a typeface, to really make it sing.
Don’t use too many
If you have 10 different typefaces on one page, you’re doing it wrong. Limit yourself. Using fewer will help the faces you do choose stand out. You can create variety in other ways like size, weight or case.
Don’t rely on trends
Gotham might be amazing, but it’s not right for everything. It’s good to know what’s ‘in’ but try not to rely too heavily on trends because just using the latest typeface won’t make your work the ‘greatest’. Instead of simply surfing the net for new fonts, open a book, and research some tried and tested classics.
Keep typefaces different
When choosing typefaces to work together, make sure they complement each other instead of matching. If you choose two that are too similar, it might look like a mistake or an inconsistency in the font.
Don’t forget about serifs
Yes, sans serif is contemporary and modern and clean and all that. But with a little love, a classic and dependable serif can be all those things too. The real magic happens when you find a pairing that brings the best out of each typeface. Be brave and stray away from Helvetica – it will be all right.
Seems too obvious, right? As designers, we sometimes get so caught up in the ‘look’ of things: there might be an amazing photo behind it, black on black might be super-slick, and the type might be tiny and adorable. But at the end of the day the single most important thing is that someone – everyone – is able to read what it’s supposed to say.
Create a hierarchy
Decide which typefaces will be used for what and how they will be treated – and stick to it. Setting up a system will make it easier for you to flush out the rest of the layout and easier for the reader to navigate.
Let your type breathe
Use leading, kerning and tracking to make sure there’s room for your type to be read and digested properly. Whether you’re designing type within a logo or laying out a long-format piece, don’t just let the default decide. Type is meant to say something, so the best logos make sure that it isn’t cramped together or cluttered.
Just because you got a typeface off the web or from a friend doesn’t mean you can use it wherever you want. Think of it like stock photography: you have to know the copyrights before it goes to print.
Smaller is better
Okay, not always. But seriously could you bring down that big horsey type, please? The easiest way to make something look sophisticated and tasteful is to make the type smaller. Not illegibly small, but take a second look at your layout and see if you can’t nudge everything down a couple of point sizes.
Words and icons: Abby Wynne and Jesse Hora of MAKE
Discover the best free fonts for designers at our sister site, Creative Bloq.