3 Guidelines for Stellar Design Typography

Graphic designs are meant to showcase your brand in a visually engaging manner, and typography will make the letters come to life in your design. Dynamic typography will add clarity to your message and bring value to your design.

Here are three guidelines to make sure your typography does its job with style!

1. Get Smart with Quotes

Did you know that grammar isn’t the only place you can misuse quotations marks?

In design software, users have the preference to use “smart quotes” or “dumb quotes.” Smart quotes (those that are curly and sloped) are the correct default for quotation marks and apostrophes. They are purposefully crafted to accompany your font of choice.

419-Smart Quotes.jpg

Dumb quotes are straight and have a more vertical, stale quality. When dumb quotes are used, it dilutes the quality of the publication and gives it an awkward appearance. Avoid this error by selecting the smart quote setting in the preferences of your design software. The only time dumb quotes should be used is when indicating the measurement of feet (3') and inches (3").

2. Be Precise in Hyphenation

When is a hyphen not a hyphen? In two places: an “em” dash and an “en” dash. 

Hyphens should connect linked phrases or words (like “off-campus” apartment) and may also be used when a word breaks from one line to the next. 

419- Quote.jpg

An en dash (slightly longer than a hyphen) is used to connect a range of numbers (i.e., 20-30). 

An em dash is the longest of horizontal marks and should be used to set off a separate thought or grammatical break or to introduce speakers in a narrative dialogue within the text. Em dashes are often used in tandem to set apart a phrase, but they can also be replaced with two en dashes with a space in between. What’s best? That’s for your team to decide:

“We argue—sometimes vociferously—about what is best.”

“We argue -- sometimes vociferously -- about what is best.”

3. Limit Typeface Combinations

Conventional wisdom holds that most projects require only three typefaces (or more precisely, three type families).

For example, a good legible serif, a simple sans serif, and a refined display typeface will bring a cohesive, coordinated appearance to your page.

419- Sale.jpg

Use serifs appropriate for your headline, subheads, and body to bring contrast, but limit yourself to three fonts. This will bring a harmonious, compatible feel to your publication, without distracting the reader with too much noise.

Great Design Builds Trust

The correct use of typography in design reflects excellent professionalism.

Be smart in your use of quotes, hyphens, and typeface combinations, and you will make customers feel secure while adding elegance to your next print project.

Typography Essentials Revised and Updated: 100 Design Principles for Working with Type Paperback

by Ina Saltz

Typography Essentials: 100 Design Principles for Working with Type is a practical, hands-on resource that distills and organizes the many complex issues surrounding the effective use of typography. An essential reference for designers since 2009, Typography Essentials is now completely refreshed with updated text, new graphics and photos, and a whole new look.

Divided into four sections—The Letter, The Word, The Paragraph, and The Page—the text is concise, compact, and easy to reference. Each of the 100 principles, which cover all practical aspects of designing with type, has an explanation and inspiring visual examples drawn from international books, magazines, posters, and more.

Typography Essentials is for designers of every medium in which type plays a major role, and is organized and designed to make the process enjoyable and entertaining, as well as instructional.