From the Winter 2004 issue of our newsletter, Let’s Grow.  For a FREE subscription, CLICK HERE.

Typography Tips To Increase Readability

As direct marketers know, different is not always better.  In a misguided effort to get noticed, some graphic artists produce graphically interesting but not very legible brochures, ads and catalogs.  These 5 simple guidelines will go a long ways towards ensuring your advertising is inviting to read.

  1. Use Serif Typefaces.  In printed material, body copy is easier to read in a serif typeface than a non-serif face.  Serifs are those little lines at the ends of certain letters.  They aid legibility by forming a line that guides the eye across the page.  Sans serif typefaces are fine for headlines and work best for web sites, but make printed text much more difficult to read.
     
  2. Watch Your Line Lengths.  Studies show that the eye can comfortably take in about 60 characters across.  More than that, and readability diminishes.  Rather than try to pack in 80, 100 or more characters in a line, divide your text into two or more columns or change your layout. 
     
  3. Keep Type Sizes Legible.  Small typefaces may look elegant and may allow you to pack more onto the page.  But it’s not worth the risk of annoying your readers by using type that’s too small to read comfortably.  Remember that as the population ages, it becomes increasingly difficult for many of your customers and prospects to read small type. 
     
  4. Avoid Extensive Drop-Out Type.  Drop-out type (white on black or another color) can be eye-catching for a bold headline.  Used in smaller body copy, the letters tend to fill in and become more difficult to read.  Reserve drop out type for headlines and small amounts of large text.
     
  5. Reserve Italics For Emphasis.  Italic lettering is often beautiful, and is a useful tool to use for emphasis.  Generally speaking, however, it’s more difficult to read than regular text.  Avoid using it for long blocks of copy.  Some italic typefaces are far more legible than others.
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