Typography | Basics

Typesetting tips

A single, consistently used graphic element can add flavor to your document and highlight key points. Instead of the standard bullet, look through symbol faces for an ornament that matches your message. If your document is clean and simple and you have only a few bullet points, an ornament will add interest. Be careful not to clutter your document.

Hanging Indents

Reversed Text
For print publications, white text on a black background should be used sparingly, and never at small sizes. Similarly, for web projects and video titling jobs, white text on a black background is an effective way to grab attention, and works well when there is a minimum amount of text.

Using Styles
Styles are paragraph descriptors that specify, for example, what font to use and how much to indent. If your design application supports styles, you can build a set to give all your documents a consistent look.

When styles are applied to your documents, you can easily change the entire look of a document just by changing the style definitions.

Keeping It Simple
Good document design is mainly a combination of common sense and keeping things simple. Look at attractive examples of documents that are similar to what you’re trying to create. The following list explains some basic rules.

Long lines of text are hard to read. Generally, a line should have 55 to 60 characters, or 9 to 10 words. Try multiple columns or, if you are stuck with a long line length, increase the leading slightly to make it easier for the eye to move from line to line.

White space on the page makes your document cleaner – looking and easier to read.

Use indents and bullets to highlight important points. Use headings and subheadings to help your readers find the information they’re interested in.

Avoid using more than two type families on a page. Generally one serif and one sans serif make a nice mix. Using the sans serif for headlines and the serif for body text is a common and effective formula.

Use italics or bold to highlight words and phrases, rather than using all uppercase. All uppercase is hard to read.

Left justification can be easier to read and looks less formal than full justification. Pick the alignment option that matches the tone of your document.

Graphs, pictures, and charts add interest to your documents and clarify your text.

Horizontal and vertical lines can be used sparingly to break up blocks of text.