5 Secrets to Instantly Help You Along Your Typographic Odyssey (Print Edition)

chris

Hello, everyone!

Chris here for Ready Artwork’s Graphics Team. Today I’d like to share some graphic design secrets ( shhh…) that will instantly help you along your typographic odyssey. Working with type is an essential part of graphic design. It’s what makes graphic designers unique amongst the various design disciplines. Flashy artwork and photography are great, but what good is it if your audience can’t read the information you’re trying to relay, or even worse, doesn’t want to. Small decisions such as the amount of tracking ( consistency of spacing between a word or block of type)  or leading ( spacing between baselines of consecutive rows of type ) are capable of controlling how your readers process the presented information.

Example 1:  Read this out loud

Example 2:  R e a d  t h i s  o u t l o u d.


So, without further ado, here are 5 secrets to instantly help you along your typographic odyssey ( Print edition )

  1. Know your audience. If you’re making a postcard that is targeting individuals interested in homeowners insurance, it’s probably best to not have vital information set at 8 pt text. More than likely you’re aiming for a more mature demographic. As we know, smaller text is more difficult to read as we grow older. Just in the same, paragraphs of copy set at 12 pt should not appear on a flyer for a college job fair, unless you’re trying to exhaust your readers. Knowing your audience will help you make effective typographic decisions.
  1. Stick with 1-2 typefaces. Utilizing more than 3 typefaces effectively is something that even seasoned designers struggle with. It can result in a confusing mess for your readers that could be the difference between picking up your ad or throwing it the trash.
  1. Aim for an optimal line length. If you ever want to pick a fight with a print designer, question the authority of Robert Bringhurst. He wrote a book on typographic standards which graphic design academics keep on their nightstands. Anyhow, in the book, he states that 45 – 75 characters per line is the optimal line length with 65 as a sweet spot. Keep this in mind for your longer paragraphs. You will instantly improve the readability of your printed collateral.
  1. Respect the Classics. There’s a reason why Helvetica is so popular. And it’s not because of a documentary or because it’s “hip”. Type designer like Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann, have spent countless hours drafting and analyzing type anatomy in order for a typeface to possess timeless qualities. Typefaces like Helvetica, Garamond, and Futura have withstood the test of time and can be a viable solution for your typographic needs.

  1. The more the merrier. Utilize typefaces with huge families. For example, Helvetica Neue has a total of 51 fonts in its family. That’s a huge family! Think of all the combinations and solutions one could come up with. Even better, they all relate to one another.

That not an excuse to use them all, every family has its oddities.


Alright, there you have it, some type secrets ( shhh…) that will instantly help you along your typographic odyssey. Remember that these rules are intended to be utilized in print. So the next time you’re creating an ad to place into your local news circulation or drafting ideas for a brochure, keep your end user in mind and be kind to their eyes. Another quick note, while there’s some cross over from print to web, the web offers a new array of typographic challenges and solutions. When in doubt, feel free to reach out to us here at Ready Artwork. I hope this was an informative experience and I look forward to talking type again.

Less is more,

Chris Figueroa