Typography rules for non-designers admin May 29, 2023

Typography rules for non-designers

Are you constantly struggling to deal with typography?
Here are five tips for non-designers to overcome font-anxiety and start appreciating the beauty of type.
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Typography is the origin of language and of human communication. Moreover typography is the fundament of our culture, of ourselves. Only through language, we as the human race could evolve.

Start with only one font

The first tip for non-designers dealing with typography is simple and will make your life much easier: Stop combining different fonts you like individually and try using only one font in your future compositions.

If you don’t believe me, think for a moment about how many different fonts there are out there. And now think about how many great designers there are, who know exactly how to combine a fancy Merriweather with Montserrat to achieve a combination of tradition and modern aesthetic. So if you are not one of those highly educated or visually proficient people and think Merriweather is an American boxer, you should start to use only one font per design job you are doing.

Using two different fonts successfully in a layout is hard. It requires an in-depth understanding of the essence in type or an enormous portion of luck. In general, a good rule of thumb is, to avoid two typefaces that look similar to each other and have the same classification. For example, do not use Akzidenz Grotesk and Avenir–two per se excellent sans serif fonts–together in the same design because they share too many similarities to the unskilled eye. If you have to use two different typefaces, try using a mix of serif and sans serif instead. Maybe you were lucky enough and your combination has even been mentioned in this article of Digital Synopsis.


Only use these ten fonts

  • Avenir
  • Futura
  • Gill Sans
  • Helvetica
  • Univers
  • Bodoni
  • Baskerville
  • Garamond
  • Sabon
  • Times New Roman
Double your point size
Contrast matters: Skip font weights

Provide Cleaning Toys

Don’t get me wrong, there are several situations where three font weights are more than enough and Helvetica has proven it’s usability multiple times in the past. But Helvetica Neue allows you to achieve visual contrast much easier, which brings me back to tip four: Skip a font-weight in between.

What that means is, if you want to have a striking headline and some decent body text, try to format the headline in Bold and the body in Light or even thin of it’s still readable and the font family is offering you the possibility. The reason behind that is visual contrast.

Slight changes in font-weight may often get overlooked by the audience, so to try to catch their eye with diversity and bolden up your typography to make them notice a difference.

Mind the space in your composition

Do you know, why Apple is putting their “one more thing” slogan in tightly kerned Helvetica onto a large screen year and year again completely isolated? Because it is striking. And the reason for that is called white space or negative space.

Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.