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Considerations for Typography in Print Media

Updated: Apr 13, 2022

When designing your artwork for professional print there are a lot of factors to consider and your font and typography is a key one. We have previously mentioned popular fonts for print and online this is now how best to use your chosen font.

Typography and print

Key considerations for typography in print media

1. Kerning

Kerning is the space between letters. It allows you to change the set space between letters from to make it look right to the eye. Some fonts more suited to smaller sizes can sometimes look a little odd when made larger, this would be an occasion where you would use kerning. Numbers are another which spacing often looks wrong to the eye and should be tweaked to let the eye gloss over it with ease. Once you have kerned text it is always a good idea to print it out and see how it looks. It gives you a different perspective to see where any further amendments or adjustments should be made.

Kerning font for print

2. Colour contrast

Colour contrast is an important balance to strike right. Just because two colours may look contrasting their values might be similar which doesn't make it easy on the eye. An easy way to check is to convert a section to greyscale and then slightly squint at them. If you can no longer see the text from the background there is not enough contrast between the colours. Alternatively, if you are working online there are many free online checkers to use. A helpful tip is to not to use a black font on a white background, this is actually too contrasting. It is better to use a dark grey on white to soften the contrast and make it appealing to the eye.

Colour contrast

3. Font Size

Consider where your artwork will be seen and its viewing conditions to help decide on what font sizes will be most appropriate. Business cards will require a different size to A1 posters. It is also worth bearing in mind that different fonts will appear at different sizes even if set to the same pt size. This font size number becomes arbitrary and something you will need to tweak to your design.

4. Leading

Leading also referred to as line-height is the space between the lines of text. With too little space it is hard for the viewer to read and follow the body text, too much and it looks strange to the eye and still difficult to read. As a quick rule of thumb, standard leading is 120% of the font pt, this is for both print and web body text. Some fonts will need more or less depending on the heights of fonts ascenders and descenders. Opening leading and close leading can look really effective when used on small elements of text.

Leading and line-height

5. Hierarchy

The hierarchy is where you want the viewer's eye to look at first and where it moves to next. By identifying the most important elements of your message and ensuring the correct layout and fonts help direct the reader's focus. This can be achieved not only just with font size but also with colour, different typefaces and white space as well.

Hierarchy in font

6. Whitespace

Also referred to as negative space it is the space between the elements on-page.

Sometimes there is an urge to fill all the space but it is important to have whitespace on-page, allowing your message to be read easily and communicate precisely with your viewer.

Having white space and letting the recipients eye easily read your message is less demanding, leading for it to be more likely read.

"White space is to be regarded as an active element, not a passive background." Jan Tschichold 1930.

Alignment influence

7. Alignment

Alignment is a bigger influence than it may originally seem. We are so used to reading left-aligned that it makes right-aligned and centred text harder to read. As a result, it is recommended to use left-aligned for large bodies of text and to use right-aligned and centred sparingly for small elements of text or headlines.