Typography - How to Use It to Your Advantage

Words are a beautiful thing, there are so many things you can do with them, so many messages to portray! Then there’s typography - adding a whole new level of how the meaning of words are perceived!

Typography is something of an art form, to be thought of a bit differently to just words on a page. If you look at calligraphy it’s not hard to see the amount of skill and effort that goes into each letter, guiding it perfectly into the next. While this is a pretty obvious form of words as art, this also translates across to the everyday world, where words serve not only an informational purpose but also an aesthetic one.


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In the design world, typography is a vital part of every process and something that a lot of designers feel very strongly about. The appearance of a word or the way that a bunch of words appear together is something that can make or break a good design. Typography is also an important factor in the way that information is absorbed. The way that designers place words on a page or a sign or a poster influences the order that information is read and the priority that the reader gives each piece of information.

For a lot of design work, typography becomes the base of the design. Setting everything else up and linking all other aspects of the project together to deliver achieve their overall purpose.

There are a few ways you can use typography to your advantage in any project, document or communicative display. Try to keep these things in mind...

How to use typography to your advantage

Legibility

Certainly one of the most important aspects of any text-based piece of work. Your message needs to be clear, strong and easy to read. In long form text, it is even more important to keep your reader engaged and by using the appropriate legibility techniques you can help a long read feel a lot shorter.

Things to think about for legibility are things like line spacing, character size and the design of the typeface. A typeface with a lot of curls and kicks may look really nice when it is spelling out a single word, but if you have to read 500 curly words you will lose interest fast and give up on reading the text altogether. The right line spacing helps readers keep track of where they are in a paragraph, making continuous reading easier. If lines are too close together, letters start to run into each other and sentences become hard to differentiate. Size is an easy one. While it may be tempting to make your text a smaller size to fit into a smaller space, it is better to edit your text to have fewer words than to reduce the size of the text to a level where the reader has to squint to read it.

Use of Typefaces

There are millions of typefaces out there to choose from, some of them strange and wonderful, others classy and direct. It is important to keep in mind the message you want to send visually as well as verbally. The typeface you choose should suit the subject it is referring to, it should also be consistent with your existing brand and image.

While we all want to pick the typeface that has different cat illustrations making every letter, it doesn’t really project the professionalism we might be looking for in an annual report. Your typeface should reflect your brand’s personality while being clear in what is saying.

When choosing a typeface, it is also wise to look for one that has a whole family of fonts (bold, italics, strong, light etc) under it, so that you can use a consistent style throughout your design. This makes your work look well thought out and pulls your text together, enabling strong hierarchies and creating differentiation between text types while being consistent in its message.

Hierarchies

The use of hierarchies in typography is a great design tool and helps in sending a strong message to your reader.

Sizing and fonts both come into play here. Using your typeface to full advantage, you can create levels of importance within your design. Hierarchies are a great way to guide the reader’s eye to the most important parts of your message and allow them to find and absorb the exact information they need quickly.

Consistency

Your typography needs to be consistent throughout one project and every other project that follows or precedes it. The way that you communicate, both in what you’re saying and how (visually) you’re saying it is a key part of the branding and identity of your business.

If you choose a distinctive typeface to represent yourself, you should be consistent with that aesthetic across all of your communications. Develop your professional style guide to include this as a rule, for example saying, headings should always use this font, in bold, at size 16. These rules can be developed for every way that text is used to create consistent branding.

This consistency means that it will be easy for readers to distinguish that a message is coming from your brand and not any other. It creates a familiarity and helps your clients or audience develop a relationship with your business.


Typography is a brilliant tool for communication in design. Developing your understanding of how to use it to your advantage can help your business project themselves professionally. With the right typography, you send the right message.