Creating Effective Newsletters: Tip #3—Type Treatments to Maximize Legibility

What’s Your Type?

Many designers fail to realize the importance of type and how it impacts the look, feel and legibility of the publication.

  • Be sure to use fonts that are easy to read. This is especially true with body paragraphs. Fonts used in headlines can be more artistic and sytlized. For san-serif fonts, we recommend using Arial, Avenir Helvetica, Futura, Verdana, Scala or URW Linear, to name a few. For serif fonts, we recommend using Garamond, Palatino, Times Roman, and Scala Serif. Some great font sites are: dafont.com, Emigre and myfonts.com.
  • Be consistent. Use stylesheet formatting so that headlines, subheads and body text have a consistent look throughout the document. Using too many typestyles looks clumsy and amateurish. Text should be clean and elegant but not overstylized.
  • Be aware that fonts differ between platforms. What looks great on a Macintosh may not look as good on a PC. PDFs are the best way to show your client a digital proof to ensure that font maintain their intended look. When creating an online publication be sure to use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to ensure optimum control over how your typestyles are displayed. This will ensure font integrity.
  • Adjust kerning (letter spacing) and use proper font ligatures to avoid letters that are either too close together or too far apart within a word. We will provide more on kerning in a future issue.
  • Adjust leading (line spacing) and paragraph spacing so that the text layout is visually pleasing. We will provide more on leading in a future issue.
  • Avoid the use of too many typestyles. Two or three typestyles should be enough for the entire publication.
  • Limit the use of all caps. Capitalized headlines should be kept to a minimum.
  • View type as artistic blocks of content. Type works visually in blocks of grey space which depending on the page design, can encourage the viewer to read further. It is always best to break up block of type with headlines, bulleted text, lead-in bolded text or pull-quotes. We recommend limiting paragraphs to just 5 or 6 sentences.
  • Adding a photo or graphic helps to break-up long sections of text and adds visual interest.

Don’ts:

  • Don’t use type with drop shadows except in areas where it would be difficult to read, e.g., when type is run on top of a background image. See fourth bullet below.
  • Don’t overuse italics. Use italics only for emphasis or titles of books or movies or for a block or pull quote. Overusing italics makes text difficult to read.
  • Don’t use type on top of busy patterned backgrounds or photos. A solid color or gradation or just plain white background makes for a clean and easy-to-read presentation.
  • Don’t use excessive hyphenation. Doing so makes your text difficult to read and makes paragraphs appear choppy.

“Type” away…

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