5 Timeless Rules of Typography (that will carry you into 2017)

Depositphotos_7971825_s-2015Your company’s message to your customers is always a variation of this: You have a problem; we have a solution. That’s it.

Whether your solution is to their landscaping problem, their personal or business storage problem, or even their “I want to feel good about myself” problem – your company offers a custom solution in the form of professional exterior maintenance, eco-friendly storage, or yoga classes for beginners. We are all in the business of creating solutions for our customers in their daily lives.

Exactly HOW we provide that solution is where the message begins to diverge into the multi-faceted commerce of today. Navigating that world can be busy and confusing. Your customers are trying to hear your message in a sea of solutions. How do you make sure your message is the one they hear (or see?)


Just as important as what you have to say is how you say it.


Just as important as what you have to say is how you say it. We are flooded daily with messages of varying degrees of importance. How can you know which message is directed at you? How can you know which product to choose or what link to click on? Your customers make dozens of choices everyday – they are going to read or click on what is easiest to understand. You can have brilliant content but if it is difficult to read it will be passed over every single time. One leading expert on the subject said it best:
“WEB DESIGN IS 95% TYPOGRAPHY”
The main job of typography is to enhance communication. We encounter a lot of printed work every day. Good typography interprets this mass of printed material in such a way that the reader (your customer) will be able to find what’s interesting to him.

So . . . how can you make typography work for you?

1. Font Choice.

Though typography has a rich history the simplest way to dilute it is into font choice. Fonts carry just as much of a message as the content. Choosing a serif versus a sans serif font will affect readability both online and in print. Serif fonts (like Times New Roman) give a classic, literary feel. Sans Serif fonts (like Helvetica) give a modern feel and are easier to read on a screen.

2. Display Fonts.

These get their own category because, while they’re not designed for readability, they have a big impact. Display fonts are those big, bold choices that tell your reader to LOOK HERE. When creating a title or sub-heading, choosing a charismatic display font will tell your customers who you are.

3. Hierarchy.

All words are not created equal. Some deserve to bigger, bolder or italicized. Put the most important words at the top of your content and tell your reader where to start by making these words stand out. The only except to this rule is underlines. This always signals a clickable link and shouldn’t be used for emphasis.

4. No reverse type.

David Ogilvey (Ogilvey & Mathers) repeats this rule in his many books on advertising. Basically, white text on a black background = hard to read and yields less conversion than black on white. He is the king of advertising and I’m not one to argue.

5. Use blank space.

Again, show your readers what’s important by putting it out there all on its own. This trend resurfaced in 2016 and is going strong into the new year. Having a sea of text is tiring to look at. Break it up with some clean blank spaces and give your readers a chance to pause and take in all of your great content.

Remember, we live in a content eat content world. Make sure yours gets to the top by using typography to make your message clear: You have a problem; we have the solution.

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