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The 5 Most Important Typography Rules

Sean Coady March 31, 2021 · 4 min read
When it comes to graphic design there are all types of avenues that one may venture down in terms of career paths. One of the most prominent forms of design in our society is typography: the science, or art, of creating and using letter forms. Like any other skill or trade, there are specific rules and guidelines to learn before you can ever truly develop your skill set. Below are 5 of what I would consider to be the most important rules/guidelines regarding the art of typography.

Understand Contrast

5 Most Important Typography Rules Creative Market Contrast 2015 Contrast is a term that gets used to describe a wide variety of mediums including music, food, paintings, and even typography. When describing type in terms of contrast, what you’re referring to is the balance between black and white on your page — if you were to set everything to greyscale of course. You can affect the contrast of your type by adjusting elements such as kerning, leading, font size, font weight, and margins. Learning how to adjust them to create a harmonious balance within your composition is the trick.

Use Visual Hierarchy

5 Most Important Typography Rules Creative Market Hierarchy 2015 Much like contrast, hierarchy is a term that gets used a lot outside of design & typography. Typographic hierarchy refers to the manner in which you stress the importance of specific lines of type compared to others. By doing this, you can also determine and guide the order in which the viewer receives information from your design by directing the flow of their eye using visual hierarchy. Without the use of hierarchy in type it would be more difficult for readers to quickly determine crucial bits of information within the whole of your design.

Understand & Use Grids

5 Most Important Typography Rules Creative Market Grids 2015 It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to be able to understand and use a grid within your design. The essence of using a grid is to ensure that everything on your canvas or page is placed in relation to something else on the page, giving the piece more logic & visual harmony. This isn’t to say that you always need to literally use a grid over your designs, but it goes without saying that it can only benefit you to understand how & why they’re used. Click here for a great intro into the world of grid design.

Limit Your Font Combinations

5 Most Important Typography Rules Creative Market Combinations 2015 Combining different fonts is a way to create both contrast and visual hierarchy, as well as the key to keep your designs fresh, more legible, and engaging for readers. The general consensus in the design community is that you should avoid combining more than 3 font families in one composition. Keep in mind that a single font family can include dozens of weights. The reason for this is simple: when too many fonts are used in a single design it becomes hard to maintain a sense of visual order. Legibility is often disrupted too. Click here for tips on how to choose the right font combinations.

Never Distort Your Fonts

5 Most Important Typography Rules Creative Market Distortion 2015 One big unspoken rule among typographers is that you should never distort a font. This means never stretching it out of proportion to fit where it obviously doesn’t fit. In 2015 there is a font for every occasion and every application, and if you can’t find something to match exactly what you need, you can always do it by hand. Ruining the hard work and tampering with the integrity of someone else’s font is a big no-no. That being said, distorting a font and manipulating a font are 2 different things. There you have it, folks! These are my 5 Most Important Rules of Typography and I hope you’ve learned something. Remember that there are an infinite amount of tips, tricks, rules & guidelines regarding typography, and this is just a brief introduction into what I think are some of the most basic (and important) fundamentals of the practice. I encourage you to search deeper into each of these 5 “rules” as there’s a lot more to be learned about each. What did you think of the list? Do you have any other important type tips that you think I should have shared? Let me know in the comments below!

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Sean Coady

Commercial Type Inspired By Vintage Design Since 2015

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