Typography Tips

Megan HunterTips, Tornado

Typography is the most important part of graphic design. It has the power to stop your readers in their tracks if you’ve made the right choices. Size, colour, leading, kerning – all these elements form a layout (check out our Tornado Terminology on social media for what these all things mean). But before all that, we need to choose a font.

Fonts give life to your website, logo, brochures, flyers and any other marketing you are putting out into the world. If you load up a website or pick up a flyer you’ll notice the designer will have used two or three fonts. We do this to make the design look professional, readable, and aesthetically pleasing. But, if you don’t combine the right fonts, your design will suffer, and the reader might feel it all looks bland or too hard to read and simply skip your text.

Use a Single Font Family

Take the safe route. Font families often carry many weights and styles within the same typeface. By sticking to one superfamily, you are one step further into creating a minimalist layout. Plus, you’ll know the fonts will work together because, anatomically, they are the same.

At Tornado our superfamily is Avenir. This font comes in 6 different weights, and it includes italic styles. We can use the heaviest weight for headlines or simply to call attention, a thin weight for a deck, and a normal weight for the body copy.

The advantage of using a superfamily is that the designer has taken care of the smaller details of the font by adapting it for larger and smaller scales. So, if you need to use one style as a headline and one for the copy, you’ll be sure the characters will be readable at both sizes. Superfamilies have endless options that allow you to mix them up. These qualities are great if you are looking for website font combinations, or if you are designing a brochure layout. 

Consider Context

Where is your typography being displayed and who is going to read it? Consider this when deciding which font is right for your project. Striking the right visual direction and tone is important when it comes to making sure your messages are relatable.

Fonts are like humans: each one has its own personality and character. If you are designing with a specific mood in mind, pay close attention to the type of font you are using. You wouldn’t want to use a children’s handwriting brush font in a formal document in a high-end restaurant.

Every font has a story, and more often than not it conveys a specific time period. Avoid using a sci-fi font on a text that speaks about traditional printing processes. Instead, read the text and understand its meaning before choosing a font, and think which fonts could enhance the theme. This is applicable for all font styles. 

Keep Styles Consistent

Consistency is key to ensure a good design. If you are using uppercase or letter spacing for your headlines, make sure you don’t deviate. Similarly, ensure your fonts follow set size rules and don’t vary from them. Stick to a pattern. 

Keep It Minimal

Don’t go mad with fonts! You want to pick a couple that work together and set the tone and mood you want to portray. Too many fonts will create a jarring experience, fonts have personalities and may compete for attention on a page.

Clarity and white space are important when making a message noticeable. Ensure your text elements aren’t fighting for prominence within a tight space – in this situation nobody wins and your message will be lost. Space helps keep focus.

Introduce Hierarchy

Sizing is a great way to introduce hierarchy within a design and help guide the user through the content. However, for this to be effective it’s important there’s not a huge variety of text sizes on a page. Consistency, hierarchy and readability are key. 

There are many qualities to consider when it comes to hierarchy. Size, colour, weight, kerning – these variables can help you create a stronger layout. 

For instance, a headline will be set at a higher point size than the copy. Therefore, the reader’s eye will go to the headline first and the copy second. If the headline’s font weight is similar to the one on the copy, the design will lack contrast, and therefore the page will all blend into itself and nothing will stand out.

Try Something New

Everyone has tried-and-tested font pairings they know work well together, and it’s tempting to return to them again and again (we’re looking at you Keith with Gotham Bold and Gotham Light). While it’s good to have some go-to fonts, be wary of getting stuck in a rut. There are so many different fonts out there to experiment with, so if you can find the time it’s always worth having a play with new and interesting offerings.