Typography Commandments

1. Thou shall use rich Black

This is a tip that every beginner should know. It  passes down on a line of wisdom from art director to junior or its learned trough trial and error. If  you choose a black text for print it is very important to   make sure  you are using  rich black and it doesn’t contain any other colors. On the computer screen ,the eye can be easily fouled but the printer will always may have a different representation of the same black.  There are many different possible ink combinations – the most common “rich black” contains percentages of all 4 inks: 63C, 52M, 51Y 100K. This particular variant owes it’s popularity to Adobe Photoshop – when an RGB file is converted to CMYK, areas that are absolute RGB black (R0, G0, B0) will wind up with this combination, unless certain default settings have been changed. Other possible flavors of “rich black” are “Cool Black” (60C, 0M, 0Y, 100K) and “Warm Black” (0C, 60M, 30C, 100K).

black inks Typography Commandments

2. Thou shall not mix the wrong typefaces

When using more than one fonts, you should always pay attention what fonts you mix. OK, both of the fonts look good , and that’s great and important but  it is also significant how the two work together. It is preferable choosing  fonts that are similar( first example)  rather than using very different typefaces like I did in the second one.

22 Typography Commandments

32 Typography Commandments

3. Thou shall not use too many fonts

Although sometimes tempting, using many fonts can be very confusing for the reader and  the layout will lack unity. So it is better to stick to using two , maximum three different typefaces.

41 Typography Commandments

4. Thou shall not abuse centered text

Centered text can be perfect for a title , but not  for a long text. Our eyes are used to read from left to right so it’s always better to choose a left aligned text ( of course the opposite is suited for the cultures that are used to read for right to left ). Also centered text has appears more often to be  jagged and broken ending up in an unwanted amateurish appearance.

52 Typography Commandments

5 .Thou shall not misuse serif fonts

The standard style for most content on the Web is sans serif fonts, such as Arial or Verdana. That is because  sans serif fonts are easier to read on-screen, they look pretty good when their size is reduced, and they tend to retain their visual appeal across different platforms and browsers. Also there is no room for a serif font in a book or magazine where a good readability plays an important role.

But Serif fonts  can be used with success  for titles and subtitles on many sites and that can lend a nice effect on heavily sans serif pages.

61 Typography Commandments

6. Thou shall not use similar values of color

I’ve seen this happening too many times. A poor contrast between the color of the text and its background will ALWAYS  result in a poor legibility. So it may appear like a good combination between two similar colors but this combo it’s simply no good if the text can’t be read properly (for more information check   Understanding Color -part II ).

similar values Typography Commandments

7.Thou shall check the text yourself

It may appear easier to just copy paste the text you received but it is safer to check for yourself for any misspellings or punctuation errors . And if the text allows you, it is even safer to double check . I remember the case of a friend of mine who had to pay from his own pocket some expensive business cards because he misspelled a name and didn’t check before sending them to the typography.

14 Typography Commandments

8. Thou shall use proper leading

The leading (the spacing between text baselines) is another important characteristic of the text. Too small or excessively big values make the reading more difficult. The difference between a text badly set (or one with the nasty double spacing) and a text with correct leading is like the night and the day. You need to experiment a lot because each font requires a different leading.

leading Typography Commandments

9. Thou shall use proper tracking & kerning

Tracking or letter spacing is  similar to leading only it is applied to a group of letters. Kerning it’ s a little more exact , increasing the value between specific letters. Both of them are  very important because they  prevent letters from running into each other, especially during print and also  they improves readibilty. (for more info check out Typography, type and typefaces )

tracking Typography Commandments

10.  Thou shall not use inappropriated font

Just because a font looks good it doesn’t mean it’s the right font for your composition. Before choosing a font , take a time to study the shapes and sizes in your layout. Do you have thick or thin shapes, round or square , is there a lot of detail or the layout is simple . Reflect all these attributes into your font !  For example if you have a lot of  round shapes ,it is better to follow that line with your font instead of using a square font.

sq circle Typography Commandments

rd circ Typography Commandments

So, make sure you always adjust your font with the rest of the layout so that they complemet each other. This way your composition is nicely balanced.


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