One of the most important elements of design is typography. There are so many important components that go into creating typography that people will read and remember. Here’s an Prizum official typography checklist of rookie mistakes to avoid to take your typography skills to the next level! Use this checklist when proofing your design to clean it up and make it top-notch!

Tracking & Kerning

Sure, our design programs allow us to customize the copy in our designs. However, it is important to make sure the adjustments are not distracting or dysfunctional.

Depending on which font you choose, you may need to slightly increase or decrease the tracking, or equal spacing between each letter. Tracking that is too loose or too tight decreases readability, and makes your design look off-balance.

And, some fonts may not have perfectly equidistant spacing between letters. This is where kerning, custom spacing between letters, comes in to play. It is important, especially on large headlines, or when designing logos, to take a close look at the kerning on your font, word phrase, etc. Make sure there are no awkward gaps or letters that look like they’re too close together compared to others.

Leading

Now that we’ve checked spacing between the letters in our words, it is time to check the spacing of our copy from line to line! Just like tracking and kerning, it’s important to have a comfortable amount of spacing between lines. Leading that is too tight or too loose will also decrease readability, and will also make your design look off-balance.

Proportionally-Scaled Text

When you scale your text in a design, make sure it’s done proportionally! Hint: use the “shift” key to make sure you’re sizing things proportionally. Strangely scaled text can make your design look stretched or squished, and ultimately make you look like a lazy designer.

Colors & Contrast

When selecting colors for your font (or design in general), make sure your design is functional. Select colors that do not clash, and have enough contrast that readability does not become an issue. For instance, do not put a low transparency portion of text on a crazy busy background pattern.

General Readability

What size are your fonts? In general, no print piece should have copy that is smaller than 8 point font.

What weight/style of font are you using? Traditionally, serif fonts are known for their legibility, and are often used for large sections of body copy. However, large sections of copy on the web are more commonly executed with simple sans serif fonts.

Orphans & Widows

One common oversight, especially in print design, is hanging orphans and widows. These are essentially standalone words or short lines that appear at the top or bottom of a paragraph or column of text. These make for an awkward break in the visual flow of your copy. One way to combat this is to manually change where your lines break. Another way is to slightly adjust the tracking. Or, if you have the right to do so, adjust the actual copy to either make a sentence longer, shorter, etc. to make sure there are no widows or orphans.

Double-Spacing After Each Sentence

To double-space, or not to double-space, that is the question that English teachers and writing professionals have been battling for years. In design, it is not recommended that you double-space between sentences. It can create strange breaks in your text that interrupt the visual flow of your text. If you’re provided copy that is written this way, there are tools that can help automate the process of changing from a double space to a single space after each period. For instance, in InDesign, use the “Find/Change” function. Or, if you prefer to adjust in Word before pasting into your design document, use the “Find and Replace” tool.

Selecting Fonts & Font Pairings

First and foremost, before selecting a font, it’s important to understand the history of typography. What is the origin of typography? Who was the “inventor of typography”? And, how did different fonts come to be, and why did they come to be? Watch this video to learn more.

When selecting which font (or fonts) you’re going to incorporate into your design, make sure they do not clash. Combining fonts can be tricky, but when done well, can make a world of difference. Selecting well-paired fonts can create a visually interesting piece that will make people want to read what it is you have to say. A safe start is to use a serif and sans serif together to create a sense of hierarchy. Always test out fonts together before you dive deep into design to save yourself from a headache later on!

Check out this ultimate guide to font pairings. It explains the anatomy of typography, how to choose great font pairings, and shows examples of great font pairings.

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