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Pro digital type tips for graphic designers

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If you're making the move from print to digital, there are lots of criteria to keep in mind when it comes to keeping your typography looking as sharp as possible. We've already looked at what designers can do to improve their digital typography, but to help you take your online lettering even further, be sure to keep these words of wisdom in mind.

01. Build in flexibility

“The biggest mistake you can make is to imagine static typographic compositions as written in stone,” says Massimiliano Frangi, senior design director at CBA Italy. “Flexibility, readability and personality: these are the three fundamental characteristics when we speak of web typography.”

02. Limit typefaces

“It’s important to not choose too many typefaces, because this will crowd your design,” says Martha Lisboa, digital designer at CBA Paris. “A maximum of two or three will suffice, and this will allow for a lighter app that can be loaded in a few seconds.”

03. Test your type

“The most important thing is to test your designs on different device sizes,” adds Lisboa. “The more devices you try your text styles on, the better idea you will get about how it works for the user.”

04. Understand CSS

“Use the same skills you’ve developed for print – hierarchy, pairings, colour - but also read up on how type is used when creating web pages,” says Dan Bradshaw, design director at TH_NK. “If you’re just starting out, getting an understanding of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and how they work is a good nerdy start. There are loads of useful tutorials out there, including this one.”

05. Get responsive

“We’ve used responsive typography across many projects – it’s actually something our developers have actively encouraged,” says Bradshaw.

“We use techniques like CSS locks, as this allows you to smoothly transition between sizes depending on your viewport, as opposed to snapping from one size to another. From a designer’s perspective, this approach is still about considering your type sizes at the various breakpoints, getting it into your browser and testing it out.”

This article was originally published in issue 277 of Computer Arts, the world's best-selling design magazine. Buy issue 277 here or subscribe to Computer Arts here.

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Tom May
Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specialising in art, design and travel. He has been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. He has also worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, Heat, Company and Bella.