5 golden rules for great typography

If you've been paying attention, you'll already be well aware that thinking like an editorial designer can help you improve your typographic design skills. Now we ask the experts to reveal their golden rules for typographic design; learn them well.

01. Legibility and congruency

"My main focus is on two things," explains Hagen Verleger. "First, the legibility of the typeface and the readability of the set texts. Second, the congruency of form and content. I apply the canonised rules of classic typography, then partially break them with shifts and twists."

02. Don't mix and match

Alphabetical's Bob Young believes in ripping up the typographic rule book when necessary to execute a creative concept. But if there's one mantra he swears by, it's never to mix more than four styles and sizes of typeface on a page.

03. Classic with a twist

"I'm not attracted to over-designed typefaces: I find it more interesting to work with classic typefaces in a different way," asserts Fantastic Man art director Veronica Ditting. "But in the end, the selection of a typeface is a question of personal preference, just as long as it fits the overall spirit of a project."

04. The goose bump effect

"Get the editor and writers to give you an overview of all the content, so you can think of the best way to tell each story," is Vince Frost's advice. "Find a distinctive font or family of fonts, and develop consistent page furniture – but otherwise have fun with the grid. Keep working on the look and feel until you get goose bumps. Then you'll know it's right."

05. Content is king

"Different subject matter guides us to different logic on grids or type," explains Young. "There's no point designing something that looks good if it doesn't communicate what you want it to. The level of content can also change the pace or mood of a design. Don't change the feel of the design by overloading the page, or making it feel like you're just filling space."

Words: Jeremy Leslie

This article originally appeared in Computer Arts issue 229.

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