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Typography Fundamentals

Good typography reinforces the meaning of the text and matches the character of the content. Typography is not a "one size fits all" solution, but some fundamental principles can be applied when setting text to ensure legibility and readability in most contexts.

Use a functionally appropriate typeface

Don't set body text with typefaces intended for use in display sizes and vice versa. Typedesigners put a lot of effort into producing fonts that are right for specific tasks (e.g. small size text) and you should use them accordingly.

Use typefaces with multiple weights

Use different typography styles to distinguish different content and data. Mixing fonts and its weights in this way can introduce variety into text, which will help your readers with navigation and comprehension of your content.

Don't distort typefaces

Don't freely change the proportions of the letters. If you need a wider or narrower typeface, use a font and weight intended for this purpose.

Use a legible font size

The minimum readable text size can vary greatly in different contexts. A rule of thumb for body text is to never go below size 6pt  in print and 12px on the web. Anything smaller than that will be difficult to read, unless it is capitalized.

Go big to stand out

Large typography can often provide all the visual interest a layout needs. Before considering employing other visual elements, try setting your most important content in large display sizes that contrasts the body text.

Mind your line spacing

Leading (or line height) is just as important as font size. A wider column will need more generous leading (e.g. 150% of font size) to be readable and vice versa (e.g. 120% for narrow body text). You can get away with even tighter spacing in headlines and other large text.

Mind your line length

For body text anything from 45 to 75 characters is widely regarded as a satisfactory line length, while the 66-character line (counting both letters and spaces) is widely regarded as ideal for reading.

Don’t l e t t e r s p a c e lowercase text

While moderate letter spacing can help with text set in capital letters, letter spacing lower case generally hampers legibility and should be avoided.

When in doubt, left-align

Left alignment of text tends to look efficient and tidy in most situations. It helps avoid unnecessary eye jumps, making the content easier to follow. Central alignment should be used sparingly, as it is mainly used for protocol documents, poetry etc.

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