Typography is, quite simply, the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable and appealing when displayed. In the work and skills of a designer it is about more than making the words legible. The choice of typeface and how you make it work with the layout, grid, colour scheme, design theme and so on will make the difference between a good, bad and great design

Typographic design principles


The space in between lines of text.

(Term refers to lead pieces inserted in between lines of type

to add more space on old fashioned printing presses)

Leading is traditionally 20% greater than the font size, however individual styles may call for different distances.

For print, add at least 2 leads to font size e.g. for font 12, use at least 14 leads.

For online, add at least 4 leads to font size e.g. for font 12, use at least 16 lead



Kerning is the spacing between individual letters and words in a single line of text. Letters set too closely together make words illegible, too far apart they become awkward to read, and if spacing differs between letters or words it can be difficult to read.




Make sure your audience can read the text. Take into consideration the following factors:

  • font family/size-in newspaper articles using the same font family creates order and a sense of credibility.
  • letter/word/line spacing
  • alignment
  • font/background colour

Similarity & Alignment

The organisation of information.

Alignment styles

Flush Left  This is where the text is lined up on the left, but the right hand side margin is “ragged”. This allows an easily readable text but creates a concave shape (curved inward) text, when we should try to use convex (curved outward).

Flush Right The opposite to flush left, with flush right we can control kerning spaces of text on individual lines but this can be hard to read and is better used on small amounts of text.

Centred  With centrally aligned texts you can control spacing for good legibility, problems you may encounter are that the reader may find it difficult to find the beginning of the next line of text. This is best used for small areas of type for example in news headlines.

Justified  This is where text is aligned on both the left and right hand sides, if this technique is used correctly, tests appear uniformed and clean. Despite this, it is harder to control word spacing, common in newspaper print.

Random Asymmetrical This means there is no clear structure to your text. Can be used to create unusual edicts allowing your piece to become creative and unique. However, it can become  difficult to follow and hard to read.

Uniformity & Consistency

Repeating elements in a composition to direct viewers attention and create harmony.


Ordering information in terms of importance.


Creating interest and distinguishing different types of information with different typefaces.


Bad word spacing can create distracting white patterns flowing through the page that can become more prominent than the text itself. The effect is known as “rivers of white” and it can make reading difficult.



Is a short line that appears at the top of a column, this happens when the last word of a paragraph continues onto the next page.


Is short line at the end of a paragraph, could be a single word, short phrase or the last syllable of a hyphenated word.


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