The 12 Principles Of Effective Typography

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One of the most important components of graphic design is typography. Every design has to incorporate typography (unless it’s only a picture). This means designers need to learn the principles of typography in order to develop excellent designs - and being well-versed on the subject of typography can help you come across as professional to potential clients.

Here are 12 effective rules for incorporating typography into your designs.

1. Understand the principles of typography

Before starting out, you should ensure you understand its principles. Typography is not as easy it seems. As with any form of design, typography has general standards which need to be followed. It involves intricate details that designers need to take heed of to come up with the best designs.

This kind of knowledge doesn’t come out of the blue. You need to spend time studying the art, and perfecting it through practice.

2. Know how to utilize each font

Selecting your typeface is rarely a random process. You will want to ensure the font you are selecting will connect to your audience. You should also know exactly what you want your font to communicate to the end audience, so knowing who they are is part of the planning process. It’s quite unlikely that you will use a bright font colour for an office brochure.

3. Stick to a limited number of fonts

A common mistake designers make is to mix a number of fonts on one design. This is especially common with newbie designers. As a rubric, you should stick to two or three fonts and styles for each project i.e. one typeface for the heading, one for the subtitle and one for the content.

You can choose fonts from other typeface families as well. Just make sure the font you are choosing pairs well with your existing font.

4. Pick secondary fonts wisely

To ensure readability of your content, it’s important you pair your fonts wisely. Use two different fonts so readers can make a clear distinction between two lines e.g. having different fonts for the header and sub-header.

You should also make sure the fonts are not too contradictory, or too similar to each other. While this may present a challenge, done right it means you’ll end up with great typography for your project.

5. Choose your typeface colour wisely

Colour is one of the most important aspects of fonts, and usually sets the mood of your typography. This means you should do enough colour research for your project. There are specific guidelines for picking colours you can use.

You can also decide to pick your own colour selection for your projects. Just make sure the colours you choose are not too distracting. Many clients prefer to have a colour combination that fits their company’s products or services.

6. Make use of negative space

Negative - or white - space refers to the space which does not contain any element. White space is a great feature that can help you bring out the best from your design. It allows your typography to breathe, and stabilizes all the design components in your design project.

White space is very effective if you want a specific message to stand out of your design. This is because the reader’s attention will be directly focused on the typography alone.

7. Avoid using design fads

Just like other aspects of design, typography tends to have its own fads. The problem with typography trends is they usually come and go. Some designers jump on these bandwagons when they are completing their projects. The only problem is that certain trends last for only a few months. This means that logo you thought would last a few years suddenly becomes old fashioned because the trend has shifted again.

8. Pay attention to alignment

Alignment is very important in typography. Non-designers usually have the tendency to centre align all their content. But centre alignment is hard on the eyes, and a reader can’t tell when a sentence starts or where it should end. This will make people ignore your content completely.

Left alignment works wonders for typography. When we are reading, we tend to set our focus on the left, which is where we expect the content to start.

Note: You should also be careful about mixing alignments on your design. Consistency in alignment is a better option.

9. Size matters

Design is all about creating awareness for a product or service. Your main aim as a designer is to make sure your work gets someone’s attention. Size is an important factor for this. Good design lays emphasis on the most important aspects.

For example, you can type out a 10 word promotional brochure with a big font, but not many customers will want to go through all the wording. In order to get their attention, you’ll be better off having the offer price typed in a bigger font than the others in order to capture their attention.

10. Think of typography as an art

In order to be a pro at typography, you should consider it as an art on its own. Try thinking of it as an additional, valuable, design element to your work. By so doing, you will be able to understand how different font types can work in your projects. You might also find interest in learning how the type fonts were created in the first place. This might help you develop your own unique style for use in your projects.

11. Get design inspiration

Typography is a constantly evolving art. Every month, there are new typefaces being released. In order for you to stay up to date, it's important you find designs that will inspire your work. You'll also get to know good and bad ways of utilizing typography in your projects. As the saying goes, you are better off learning from other people's mistakes. 

Note: There are many online resources such as the inspiration grid, design inspiration and type inspire among others, all of which are sure to give you some motivation for your design projects.

12. Make use of proper grammar

So far we’ve only been talking about design rules, but one of the most important aspects of typography is what the text actually says. You might use the best typography for your work, but errors in your grammar and spelling will leave a long-lasting negative impression. There are also design-oriented grammar rules that can help you create professional designs.

While this might seem trivial, most experienced designers tend to agree with it. Proper grammar will boost the professionalism of your work.


Knowing these rules can make your design reach the next level of professionalism. Just make sure to keep practising.

Do you have tips or rules for typography? Share with other freelancers in the comment section below.

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Oprettet 12 september, 2017

TomCoulter Ansatte

Designer // Writer // Creative

Tom is a Design Correspondent for He is currently based in Melbourne and spends most of his non-work moments trying to find the best coffee.

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