By Mary Ann Sircely
Whether you’re designing for print or for online publication, you want your message to come through loud and clear.
Your marketing materials should immediately grab a viewer’s attention when they visit your website or pick up a brochure. If your digital or printed pages are cluttered and busy, or at worst resemble a ransom note, what happens? Your reader becomes distracted and clicks away or turns the page. An opportunity is wasted.
Here is one quick and easy change you can make to tame a busy layout: Narrow your type choices to no more than two, three at the most.
You’ve seen those websites – the ones with a gazillion different typefaces that set your mind reeling, your teeth on edge and your eyes searching for a calm area with lots of open space. You’ve seen crazy product sheets, brochures and advertisements with six or eight fonts on the same printed page. All could benefit from serious spring cleaning to sweep away the clutter and straighten out important content that’s been lost in the confusion.
Comprehensive books can guide you through the art of typography – the entire subject cannot be covered here. But if you adhere to this simple rule of thumb for graphic design – limiting your font use – your marketing materials will communicate more clearly and persuasively.
Narrow your font selection
It’s difficult to look at the font menu with all the available typefaces and narrow your selection to two. But really, only a select few will work best with your subject and project the image you are striving to convey. The use of multiple fonts obscures the message.
To be safe, choose one serif font and one sans serif font. Serif typefaces have little ornaments at the ends of the letter strokes; sans serif fonts do not have this feature (“sans” means “without”). Traditionally, serifs are used for the main body copy and sans serifs are used for headings. Within each family of fonts, you can use bold and italic typefaces, but use them sparingly for maximum impact.
And when you use those popular italics or calligraphic fonts, make sure your words are legible, especially in titles.
Always print your draft layout if the final version is intended to be published in print. Many times, the same design that looks beautiful on your screen will look clunky and awkward on the printed page.
Don’t miss out on a single opportunity to attract a prospective customer, make a sale or grow your business. Pare down the number of fonts on your pages to allow your concise and consistent message to shine with clarity.
For more detailed information on typography, try these sources (no affiliates):
• The Elements of Typographical Style by Robert Bringhurst
• Thinking With Type by Ellen Lutpon
• I Love Typography by John Boardley
• Helvetica, a documentary film by Gary Hustwit