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Article: 20 Essential Typography Rules Designers Must Know

20 Essential Typography Rules Designers Must Know

Created by Bruce Mau Design -

Graphic design has several elements to take into consideration. From the color to the text, you can say that some principles should be down under to make your design stand out. In this case, typography and lettering design will be your main object to take care of. To make the best one, at least you have 20 essential typography rules that you need to know.


The Crucial Rules In Creating Typography

1. Understand The Basic

Typography is not just mere texts and information. It is more complicated than you think. Chances that you have to consider a lot of things and understand some of the basic principles about lettering, especially if you consider how this kind of element is the combination of science and art. In this case, the best way to get to know all of the rules is by practice.

Long story short, you will have to take your time to appropriately understand all the nitty-gritty rules of the job. You got to learn about vocabulary, measurement, settings, typefaces, details, and many other details. You might also have to learn about typography forms, ligatures, alternates, terminal, and initials, or everything of significance.

If you want to start learning about typography rules, you can start with the typeface. Jot down some of the basics such as sans-serif, serif, and decorative. There are also some font elements, hierarchy, and many more rules. But for this part, you can start by identifying the typefaces. Start by learning some of the other terms such as tails, ascender, etc.

Created by Victoria Ng


2. Know The Meaning

Said as meaning, but in this case, you can say that every kind of typefaces has its impression. This is what you should understand and know. Take note that some typefaces, swashes, and strokes can alter or create personality. Thus, it is a basic rule to know how such a typeface or font will bring out your intention as well as connect to your audience.

When it comes to this part, there is something unique about choosing your typeface process. Some sources underline that there is a psychology link that helps someone choose a certain typography font. It may sound trivial, but it also helps you create a feeling of fulfillment. So, what should you choose? Do you pick your favorite or the appropriate one?

If you want your text meaningful or approvable, go straight to the appropriate one. Underline that understanding the possible impression will ease your way to find the best typography. The best example of these typography rules is that you will use colorful, funky, and cute fonts for some fun celebration, not for construction firm brochures.

Created by Andrés Herrera


3. Limit The Typeface

The best typography rules in design elements are limitations. In some cases, people love to use more than one font to create varying and fancy-looking typography. This kind of idea can turn into a double-edged sword. When done perfectly, it will enrich your typography. But if you do it wrong, the ranges of fonts will disrupt your design flow.

To avoid all that jazz, you can always go for the fewer option rules. Using too many fonts and styles will never be the best option for newbies anyway. You can take three (at most) as the beginning. Choose from the typefaces families, and learn how to make a good pairing. These kinds of typography rules will help you experiment and learn more.


4. Understanding The Letter Space

Letters space or also called kerning, is one of the essential details in typography. One thing for sure, taking care of the kerning job is the most basic rule in typography. Thus, you should learn how to do it first as soon as possible. But, what is kerning? For newbies, you can say these rules as the distance between every letter.

The kerning may not be directly seen under the glamorous typography design, but it is one of the essential typesettings to know. Space will make your lettering easy to read or make it lose focus. Playing with kerning also helps you ensure the well-arrangement as well as the aesthetical point of your project.

Created by Kyle B. Macy


5. Play With Hierarchy

The next typography rules also demand you to play around with typesetting. In this case, you will have to know the hierarchy. As part of a basic detail, the lettering hierarchy will help you signify the stress and accentuate certain elements. The idea of the hierarchy itself is pretty vast. You can play it as a visual interest and establish it to guide your audience's attention.


6. Learn Alignment

The key alignment in many word processing software is left, right, center-aligned, and justified. With some of these alignment rules, you can make your job look easier to read or aesthetically pleasing. Most of the designers tend to choose the center or justified options, but unfortunately, it can make your wording hard to read.

The chance that those alignments will make your typography looks messy due to the uneven positioning. But then, there are no excuses for not learning about these typography rules. Understand that flushed left is easier to read. Meanwhile, the flushed right will make your work looks neat. So, what should you choose? Make sure that you can avoid ragged lines.

As you learn them, you will find that ragged lines are the biggest nightmare for typography designers. The problems can appear even with a right, left, or center alignment. So when you are writing, make sure to always pay attention to any bumps in your text. Try to adjust the line length rules so you get even and neat typesetting.

Created by Julián Leiss


7. Learn How To Uses Font Pairing

Pairing rules come with almost any design element. You can use appropriate or pre-paired colors, shapes, positions to fonts. In the case of typography rules, try to learn how to appropriately build a pairing. Some fonts also have unwritten rules about pairing, which help create a complete appearance.

What you need to underline is how big the relation of pairing rules with typefaces options. You can use multiple fonts to make a pairing. But at the same time, mind the number and the relevant appearance. It is best to use a maximum of three font rules for every typography design. You can use it for body text, title, or the subhead. If you have longer texts, then you can use more.


8. Pick Secondary Font Pairing

Not only about the number of pairing and fonts, but you also need to consider the appropriate secondary font rules. This idea will be the solution for the previous rules. As you find a generous number of fonts on the wild internet, you will eventually find some fonts that are born to complement each other. They can be good for visual hierarchy.

However, the challenge for these typography rules comes from choosing the best one and avoiding two contradictory designs. All you have to underline is to see the small little line that makes a distinction. Make sure that the second font has the same quality, thus helping create an overall consistency and uniformity. The best way to do it is to check the families!

Created by Ultramarina Studio


9. Prioritize The Readability

You got more than enough choice on the internet as your references and typeface. But, make sure you choose the font not only for its appearance. Getting lost in details and pairing can deter your purpose of giving a certain message. That is why the essential typography rule for every designer is to make sure your project can deliver the message.

In the case of creating typography, of course, your major focus should be on readability—nothing more important than the audience to understand the typography. Fortunately, you can ensure these ideas in many ways. You are starting from choosing the high contrast and avoiding small font rules. You can also play around with the two aspects until you can make the details apparent.


10. Play With Grids

If the grid makes the design look boring, it makes a different impression for typography. Grids bring a lot of effect to your designing process. It is also a critical part of designing due to its ability to produce visual harmony and logical perception. It does the same as typography rules. You can say that grid rules will make every little element in your pages look balanced.

At the same time, using and maximizing the usage of grids also help you create a cohesive appearance of your context. It looks neat, clean, and also well adjusted. In a long paragraph of text, the grid also helps build an interconnection between other information. All in all, these typography rules will benefit you a lot if utilized perfectly.

Created by Vern Liu


11. Measurement

What kind of measurement and how these kinds of details can affect your work? Underline that you will also need to measure and adjust your typefaces. For this part, the measurement refers to the adjustment of your block of text. These particular typography rules are the most basic things to consider when creating typography, either for online or printed media.

Not all fonts have the same scale or space ratio when applied in certain media, especially for websites. Pay attention to how the height and the width will affect the overall design. At some point, the different fonts can appear with a complete change. It means you will need to make another adjustment for scales, settings, or other particular rules.

However, font measurement is not only about sizes. Some experts call the term "point system," which works as a general arrangement. It includes the X height and set the width. The typography rules are to make sure that your different typeface has the same x-height and has the appropriate set width. Thus, it will create a compiling design.


12. Take Care Of Orphans And Widows

As you want to make your typography far from a ragged appearance, then do it by taking care of orphans and widows. These two terms refer to typographical lines, which can appear at the start of the next relevant pages or the end of the pages. The major typography rules are to make sure you got as few orphans and widows as possible.

When you find a single line of opening sentences at the end of pages, that is what you call orphans. But if it is an ending sentence at the start of pages, then you can call it widows. The two conditions can happen incidentally, but they can break the readers' focus and flows. To avoid the broken rules, you can do manual editing or modify the length line, so everything looks neat.

Created by 梅 畅


13. Use White Space

You are utilizing white space as best as you can be the next typography rule to do. Before you do it, understand that the blank space can bring you several benefits. You can utilize it and make breathing space for your letters. At the same time, it also works to add sophistication to the design. If you want more, use it as a way to add more flair or accentuate meanings.


14. Don't Stretch Fonts

Everyone knows that fancy lettering is not a mere job. At some point, newbies tend to be tempted to stretch the fonts just to add details. But this kind of attempt is one of the biggest taboos in typography. What you did can disrupt the natural shapes and measurement, which makes the typefaces lose their value or efficiency.

But why doing so if you know it will destroy everything? Surprisingly, some newbies did not get the right typography rules and blatantly stretches the font to make it taller or wider. Rather than getting the best out of it, it will have a distorted effect. If you want to do the same, choose the taller or wider fonts.


15. Think About The Font Palette

Have you thought about the color or contrast? At some previous points, you have learned that contrast helps you enhance readability. It works the same with the typography color. The designer relies a lot on color and shades so it can set the tone or atmosphere. So, what should you do? Chances that you have a lot of ideas to make.

In this case, start by learning and dig into color theory. Some rules will help you identify the best color pairing and the right color for your design purpose. Take the chance to learn about the specific rules and guidelines. At the same time, you can also play around or experiment with some ideas. But overall, make sure that it won't be too distracting to look at.

Created by Nick Barclay


16. Treat The Typography As An Art

To make your works mean more, you can always call it art. It also works wonders as typography rules. You can say that this particular project needs levels of artistry, which means it is more than just constructing a text. It uses many forms, principles, details, and elements that need to get along to make it eye-catching.

By thinking of it as an art, you can make the project a way to express your emotion. Art has no boundaries, limitations, or firm rules. Explore many typefaces, expand your information, find perfect solutions and be creative. You can add lines, quirks, textures, swirls, etc., as a way to experiment, but make sure you still consider other typography rules.


17. Uses The Right Tools

You got a lot of ideas and information in your head, but do you have the right tools? To ease your project, make sure you have the right equipment and product to do it. Adobe is one of the infamous software brands that bring you a good typography program. You can also try the free tools as a way to start your learning journey. Or follow the rules of paid tools for the best experience.


18. Uses Inspiration

Nothing can help designers gain more ideas other than inspiration. As you do your job, make sure you got enough influence to make your creative river flowing. It is one of the most basic typography rules you can even get. There are tons of ideas on the internet, and it is also increasing all the time. Thus, there are big chances you can discover some new techniques or ideas along the way.

Created by The Others


19. Think Twice About Design Fads

The next typography rule that you should always have in hand is thinking about trends. Design trends can hit the jackpot and be gone in the next second. Joining the bandwagon and taking a look at the design fads are not something you should hold very dearly. A wise designer knows how to jump on the bandwagon and take off when it needed to be as their main rules.


20. Don't Forget Grammar

Surprisingly, the last but not the least typography rules that everyone should know are grammar. Some of the grammar disasters you should be aware of are hyphens, dashes, punctuation, and ampersands. If you have never heard about those terms, then make sure to learn more about the various guidelines regarding them. Thus, your work will be at a professional level.

Created by Paula Etcheverry



When doing typography, there are a lot of interesting facts that you should underline. Some of them are necessary to enhance your typography job. Fancy is not the main focus, but you should also think about the function, readability, and balance. Use inspiration, grammar, design fads, typefaces pairing, and some other typography rules we have mentioned above. Let us know your comments by writing in the section below. We hope you enjoy the read, have a good day, and cheers!

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