Rules of Good Typography

The past two weekends I had the opportunity to take Steven Asbury’s J199 InDesign for PR workshop. After four full days of  InDesign information overload, I wanted to share some valuable things I learned about typography.

Prior to the workshop, I had basic  knowledge of typefaces along with a few obvious things I’ve picked up (like don’t use Comic Sans in anything – ever) along with basic understanding of good design elements. I am now confident in my ability to choose typefaces that are professional, modern and generally “acceptable” fonts to use, thanks to Steven Asbury’s rules of good typography.

The rules:

  1. Pick two typefaces from different categories  – they’ll go well together. (i.e.) modern & san serif
  2. Increase the contrast pump up your typeface by using bold and light typeface options
  3. Use the classics to look more professional (i.e.) Bodoni & Dido
  4. Kern your display type – this will make your text immediately appear more professional (and just looks better!)

Some Great Typefaces to Use:

  • Helvetica (the vanilla ice cream of type)
  • Bodoni & Didot (elegant, used in VOGUE)
  • Garamon, Goudy, Palatino, Times (serifs – oldstyle/classic)
  • Rosewood (good for novelty purposes only)
  • Archer (slab serif, used in Martha Stewart)
  • Futura, Franklin, Arial (san serifs)

A Common Misconception:

The term “font” is often the word many people use instead of the correct term, “typeface.” A typeface refers to the style of type. A font is the typeface plus a point size value. (i.e.) Times New Roman in 12 pt. font.

Although I don’t think I will ever consider myself a “font nerd, now whenever I see a newsletter, logo, poster or even a street sign, I don’t think I will be able to keep myself from analyzing the typeface!

To check out some of the work Asbury Design has done, check out the agency’s website here.



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