As a designer, I have a passion for, and a love of Typography and Fonts. I have quite a font addiction, in fact.
Over the years, learning more and more about the effective use of fonts in design, I’ve learned to temper this enthusiasm to selecting and using fonts in a wiser way, so that my font choices don’t distract from the message I’m writing.
Even if you are not a designer, in this modern age you probably are faced with font choices and some basic design tasks, especially as work from home moms or other small business owners.
5 Tips for Better Type
If I had to bottom line using fonts effectively, these would be the most basic tips I’d offer you. These are things I wish I learned in art and design school, frankly. I’ve also found books like “Typography Essentials” to be helpful to me in learning how to better use type in designs and content creation.
1. Make It Readable
The most important part of any font choices is to make what you’re typing with the fonts readable. This may sound obvious, but it really isn’t, judging from some of the examples you can find online.
There are many beautiful and unique fonts out there available to you. I love getting many of my fonts from www.google.com/fonts/. With that said, just because I think a font is pretty is no reason to use it in my current project.
Your readers or social media followers need to be able to read and absorb what you’ve written at a glance. In this day, no one likes to work too hard to read information anymore.
2. Let it Breathe
There are times in design when bunching up letters makes a great design option. For the most part, unless you really know what you’re doing, it’s better to let your design breathe. One thing I do remember from college with regards to typography is this: amateur designers fill up every bit of space. Professionals recognize leaving white space is more effective.
This principle of letting type breathe includes:
- Tracking — the space between letters
- Leading — the space between lines of type
- Margins and Padding — the space around objects and blocks of type
Leave some space around the different parts of your design for easier reading.
3. Consistent Communication in the Font as well as the Words
Your font choice should also reflect the message you’re trying to send. You need your message and your business to be taken seriously by potential customers. If you have, for example, a legal services company and you use a font like Comic Sans, you’re shooting yourself in the foot with your font choice if you use that on any social media or your website. It simply doesn’t work with the message.
Much of this is subjective, and sometimes if we really love a font we have a difficult time seeing this for ourselves. If you’re unsure, ask someone else to look at what you’ve made, and consider if your typography is distracting from your message or enhancing it.
A more whimsical sort of business or blog has more flexibility to it, but this still doesn’t mean you should go hog wild with some crazy font choice. Use the “fun” fonts sparingly.
4. Make the Hierarchy Obvious
The book “Letting Go of the Words” was a game changer for me, as far as online content creation goes. In fact, I think anyone who has a website needs to read that book and have it on their bookshelf. It’s that valuable.
One of the most important principles in Letting Go of the Words is the very important idea of information hierarchy. On each page of your website, or within any design you create, you need to make it obvious through design choices and font sizes which bits of information are most important, and which are least important, on down the line.
If everything in a design is all the same size and same style, you hit your audience with a wall of words that all looks the same. Studies have shown that they don’t know what to do next. Make what is important obvious at first glance.
Understanding that, sadly, in this day and age people tend to skim and hope something grabs their attention instead of carefully reading each piece of information that comes their way is crucial to us a work from home moms. In our side hustle, in order to stand out, what we share on social media and the content we create on blogs or websites needs to be crystal clear at first glance.
A visitor needs to grasp, at first glance, what this is about and whether or not it will be helpful to them. We achieve this through better typography and content hierarchy.
5. Avoid Eye Strain for Your Readers
Reading on a screen is different than reading paper. Reading content on a screen can make a reader’s eyes hurt quicker, also known as “eye strain”.
Our font choices can help lessen the effects of eye strain on our blog visitors.
Generally, when reading on a screen, sans-serif fonts such as Arial, Verdana, or Open Sans are easier on the eyes. A Serif is a tiny tail on the ends of different fonts, such as Times New Romans or Georgia.
Serif fonts and any decorative font may work okay in moderation in headlines, but for body text, it’s preferred that you use something that is sans serif.
When creating eye-catching images in social media, try to stick with something that is bolder and plainer than normal so as to not only grab attention but to communicate clearly with your viewers.
Also, be mindful of the colors you choose. Warmer colors (reds, oranges, yellows) may grab attention faster (thus work well in ads or on warning signs) but they tend to strain the eyes when used in body text. Stick with something more neutral for body text within paragraphs. Use good contrast in any design you do, so that words stand out rather than blend into the background (usually…again, there are design exceptions).
Also, when creating a website or blog theme, if you are able to, try to not lock in a certain font size. Most responsive web design now uses relative font sizing (em’s) which also allows browser settings to increase the font size if a reader sets it to do so. Many people with eye problems set up such settings to be able to read online more easily. When a designer or blogger sets up a site to keep the font size locked in, they are turning away potential readers.
Resources that Will Help You Learn More
There are two resources that I believe are invaluable to anyone who creates content online, whether as a designer or a work from home mom. These two books offer a great overview of both typography and structuring your information to help your readers and customers better. Highly recommended!