Want To Succeed At Typography? Learn The Rules, Then Break Them!


Every day gives us heaps upon heaps of new written content; and not just on the online front. Books, newspapers, billboards and every other platform that can transmit written content plays a role in this daily phenomenon. Of course, there is no denying that the computer and the internet have taken this ancient art form to a level nobody could think of in the past.

At the time of writing this, there are several fonts to pick from in this fascinating world. You might very well get overwhelmed with the choices, which is why being able to choose a font that is easy on the eyes, practical, and yet decipherable is something of an art. To get you started, here are a few rules to help you along.

1. Go Back To The Very Beginning

If you thought that typography was a walk in the park, then you are one of the many people with very deep misconceptions about this craft. First of all, you need to understand that typography is both an art and a science. It is an art in that you have some leeway when it comes to your artistic expression.

Effective typography is also a science because you have to stick to certain rules regarding the proportions and angles of the letters so that they don’t appear strange. So, your journey to typography mastery will inevitably begin with some familiarity with some of these basics, especially when it comes to the scientific principles governing the field. Without this, this is just no way you can hope to be a good typographer.

Want To Succeed At Typography? Learn The Rules, Then Break Them!2. Learn A Few Rules On Effective Typography

To succeed in typography, there are a few ground rules to keep in mind. For instance, ensure you get the contrast right, it affects readability and aesthetics. Another thing, don’t go overboard with the quantity of fonts – stick to two types of fonts, and if you must, three.

Speaking of which, keep the font moods consistent: a font that looks exciting and fun will not go well with a font that looks drab and official. Also, make sure the fonts are not similar, but rather complementary. Better yet, make sure they are from the same era. For instance, serif will go well with sans-serif. Even so, at the end of the day, you might want to stay away from some fonts, there is just no way to make them flattering.

3. On Paragraph Alignment

Imagine having to read pages and pages of text that are formated using center alignment, or even right alignment? It would be tedious. The simple reason being that we are used to read from the left, which makes anything but a left alignment laborious to deal with.

That’s not to say other forms of alignment are not worth trying, you just have to keep in mind that alignment can affect reading experience because it becomes harder to sustain the reading flow and create visually appealing written content when using unusual alignments. Otherwise, as long as you can meet these two thresholds, you can use whatever alignment tickles your fancy.

4. Pay Attention To Kerning

In case you are wondering, kerning is the space between the letters. It may not seem like a big deal to many, but poor spacing can throw off the harmony of the entire font. That said, whatever spacing you choose to work with, ensure it is consistent throughout the work. On short pieces such as titles, the impact of poor kerning is more pronounced.So, be extra cautious in these cases.

5. Don’t Underestimate The Importance Of Font Sizing

Size matters, more so when you are trying to make a point in a limited amount of time. When designing a billboard advert using text, you should ensure that certain words stick out. If you are selling a product “at an unbelievable discount”, it would help to have “DISCOUNT” emphasized through bigger font size. Once the big words grab the reader’s attention, their curiosity will make them seek out the rest of the words and get your entire message as initially intended.

Typography, despite everything you have read above, is not about following rules. The creative aspect of typography actually demands that you break free of these restrictions, but within reason. Actually, this is the only way you can come up with fresh ideas. Of course, if you don’t know the basic principles laid out above, you will not know what you are doing, and that’s not the idea here. The point is, you have to know the rules first before you can start breaking them – its the only way anybody who sees your work can see your innovative brilliance and acknowledge your skills as a typographer.