11 Absolute Typography Essentials for non-designers

We all struggle at times with basic typography elements. With these basic rules of thumb, you can prepare good, readable content. You do not have to be a designer to work with these elements. It is just common sense.

1. Design for mobile

You can narrow the screen of the browser to up to 320 pixels, and see if your content is clearly viewable on a mobile screen. You can select the font type accordingly, and adjust the other properties for better readability. Put it to test on an IOS simulator to test. You can adjust the viewport meta tag for better viewing.

2. The paragraph font size should, at least, be 1em

This size makes it comfortable to read. It is advisable not to go below this size as it makes it difficult for the eye to read.

3. Begin with a line height of 1.5

The line height of 1.5 works well with many font typefaces. If it goes below this size it is difficult to distinguish each line differently. You can increase the height as per your requirement if you like, but do not go below the mentioned height. If you experiment with a smaller height size, you will observe that the text looks cramped, but once you gradually increase the size to 1.5, you will see how your text opens up.

4. Distinguish your paragraphs with line height

This makes space between your paragraphs. The line space value should be equal to the line height for consistency. If you have chosen the ideal line height of 1.5 as mentioned above, then your space should also be 1.5 in value.

5. 66 characters are the best

The readability is good with this size. There has been menu rule of thumbs, such as 55-75, 45-90, but the ideal one is 66 character per line. As there is more character per line, your height also increases. It is better to adjust the height till its 66 characters. It sits well with the background.

6. Target 30-40 character per line for narrow paragraphs

The 30-40 character is a rough guideline, which can vary from font to font. A Georgia font will be fine with a 40 cut off, however, a Verdana font is wide and you might have to decrease the characters so that it can fit well.

7. Try to use a max width with ideal length

Select the max-width property. You can select by trial and error till you achieve the length to achieve the 66 character rule.

8. Aim 30-40 character per line for narrow paragraph

The 30-40 guideline is a rough benchmark. A 40 character Georgia will fit well whereas a Verdana, which is a wide font will not fit within 40 characters.

9. Left align paragraphs

Justification is good as wide spaces, making it difficult for the eye. There are excessive spaces that do not look good. Left align your paragraph for good readability. You do not even have to set the CSS.

10. Learn from designs in the wild

When you design the web page, try to learn, how they did it. Try to understand the font, style, typeface, letter space, white space, etc.

11. Tweak the height

  • Increase the line height
  • Decrease the Line Height
  • Thinner lighter text
  • Heavy, thicker text
  • Dark text on light background
  • Light text on dark background
  • Smaller x-height font
  • Laser ‘x’ height background
  • Narrow lines, full character per line
  • Wider lines, more character per line

With these simple to-dos, you can make even simple copy look attractive. A good readable text is better than cluttered ones, no matter how good the content.

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