Increase Your Online Fundraising
| Starlight Children's Foundation Canada
| Integrating Direct Mail With Online
| George La Rosa
Feature Article: Master Your Typography
If you want someone to respond to your appeal or read your newsletter, you need your message to
break through the clutter and distraction. This holds true regardless of medium, but becomes
essential for any appeal using the written word. It's why you put so much effort to use
engaging language, to find stories that draw people in, to use envelope designs that evoke curiosity...
You need to get them reading, and keep them reading.
Your content may be captivating, but you will still lose your audience if it feels awkward to read --
if it strains the eye. To ease those eyes and retain those readers, you need better typography.
Typography (from the Greek words typos meaning "form", and graphe meaning "writing") is the art and process of arranging type.
When done well it should be invisible, allowing the reader to slip into the experience without being reminded that they are reading.
How you achieve this can vary with your medium and message, but the basics of typography will remain:
- Typeface and font: Typeface is more than just a font. A typeface is a consistent visual style which can encompass a number
of fonts. You may find one font better for headlines while using another for body, but both must work together to create a
seamless typeface. Remember that size can change the overall effect of a font greatly.
- Serif or Sans Serif: There are four classes of typeface: Serif, Sans Serif, Script and Ornamental. Script
(which imitates handwriting) and Ornamental (used for decorative embellishments) are tiring to read, while
Serif and Sans Serif are intended to make reading easier. Serifs are the extensions added to individual letters
and are intended to guide the eye from one to the next; Sans Serif fonts do not have these extensions.
- Spacing and alignment: How the type is positioned on the page affects readability. Vertical alignment
("leading" or "line-spacing") determines the distance from one line to the next, and from paragraph to paragraph.
Horizontal/type alignment determines the position and spacing of the letters and words on a single line
(left, centre, right or justified). If your words look too loosely or densely packed, tracking and kerning
can adjust the spacing from one letter to the next. Tracking adjusts the space between letters evenly. Kerning
is the adjustment of space between letter pairs.
Most typefaces were designed to be printed on paper, but in the continued move to a paperless office, more and more
people are reading exclusively on a screen. This can complicate things, as you lose some control over the
appearance of your words. The reader's screen resolution, browser, operating system and available fonts
can all affect the appearance on your typeface. And if typeface isn’t easy to read, it will impact your
call-to-action. Your designer needs to anticipate and mitigate these challenges.
Choosing the right typeface for your website and electronic communications will go a long way towards engaging and
retaining the attention of your reader. Your choice will depend on three important factors:
- Personality: Are you trying to engage youth? Are you a respected authority? Are you on the cutting edge of innovation?
Your typeface helps communicate who you are to your reader. Arial is modern, but plain. Times New Roman is formal, but
old-fashioned. Comic Sans Serif is friendly, but unprofessional. Your choice affects the impression you make.
- Readability: A typeface may look good on a printed page, but may look muddled or unclear on a screen.
(Some Serif fonts are quite vulnerable in this respect.) Consider sizing, spacing and alignment.
- Accessibility: Not all fonts are available on all browsers and operating systems, so be sure to choose fonts that
are widely available, or your typeface will suffer.
Verdana (sans serif) and Georgia (serif) are typefaces that have been specifically designed for online
reading. Both are installed on Microsoft and Apple platforms, making them available to nearly everyone.
They look bigger, they have fewer curves to limit jagged edges and blurriness, and have wide letter-spacing.
As a result they are very easy to read on-screen. Also, people reading on computers prefer sans serif to
serif fonts, so Verdana makes an excellent font for body copy.
What do you think?
Contact Chris at: firstname.lastname@example.org