To Serif or Sans Serif? Typefaces Make A Difference

Typography is the cornerstone of graphic design. It’s what brings character to your magazine, catalog, brochure or newsletter. It should never be overlooked or left to the end of your project. Typography should be considered during initial design phases and should be allowed to impact your layout and image choices. Why is it so important? Because the typography you choose sets the tone for your readers. It helps you tell your story in a way that an image (or even your copy) can’t.

Being fans of infographics, we came across this little gem recently which has generated quite a bit of conversation in the office. It’s sort of an ABC guide to typography which has also sparked interest on our Facebook and Twitter channels. The MagCloud community is clamoring for typography tips so we thought we reiterate these 4 professional tips from the Noodlor infographic:

1. Limit yourself to a maximum of 3 well contrasting typefaces.

2. 95% of graphic design is typography. Treat it well!

3. First, start off on paper, then move on to your computer!

4. When you’re stuck…discard old ideas and start fresh!

Still need convincing? Check out this video from typographer and graphic designer Erik Spiekermann. He breaks down the elements of typography and explains what makes it such a key part of any design.

Erik Spiekermann – Putting Back the Face into Typeface from Gestalten on Vimeo.

Also check out our recent blog post on Typeface Do’s and Don’ts for additional insight in how best to use typefaces in your next portfolio, magazine, brochure or other print project.

Share your thoughts on the art of typography as a comment below. Is it something you spend a lot of time on when designing your MagCloud publication?

It’s All About the Wordplay: 6 Typeface dos and don’ts

We’ve all seen over-designed documents that at times make us cringe.

Most often the offending design element is an extreme font choice, or font overload with too many fonts used throughout the document. Poor typeface choices can make a document hard to read or unprofessional looking. So, if you are looking to keep a professional look, without compromising personality, it’s important to select the right fonts for your publication. And while there aren’t any hard/fast rules for selecting fonts, here are a few guidelines that we think may help you on your way.

1. Follow the Rule of 3
The only quantitative rule for design is the “Rule of 3.” When you start tweaking the fonts of your document, be sure to apply no more than three typefaces per design (or page). That’s not to say that you can’t use multiple styles within a font family (i.e. Neutra Bold for headlines and Neutra Thin for photo credits), just be mindful of not mixing too many typefaces and styles–fight the temptation to blend Impact, Courier, Lucinda and Trebuchet in the same document. While there might be a few exceptions to this rule, it’s a good sanity check, to ensure that you don’t go overboard and over-complicate your design. And as a good rule of thumb, you should probably just avoid Papyrus and Comic Sans. Always. Just take our word for it.

2. Choose a fitting font for your audience.
Be sure to choose a font that matches the tone and audience of your document. For example, Matt Mattus’ Plant Society a gardening blogazine has a different readership and “feel” than this corporate report. Both of these documents are well tailored to their target audience. Something like a gardening magazine might use a more fun and light serif font, whereas the business would find it more appropriate to use a more structured sans-serif font.

If all of this is sounding French to you, that’s because it is! In typography, serifs are the sometimes curly details (they look a bit like feet) on the ends of the strokes that make up letters and symbols. A typeface with serifs is called a serif typeface and a typeface without serifs is called sans-serif, from the French word sans, meaning “without.”

But enough with the French lesson, let’s take a look at some examples:

3. Avoid hard to read fonts.
Some decorative fonts are designed to only be used for headlines or even just drop caps. Be sure when you select a fancy or script font, that you use it sparingly, and that you can still read it. If you can’t read the type, you can be sure your audience won’t bother to try. Also avoid WordArt, which while fun to play with, is very difficult to read.

4. Use contrasting text for headlines and body text.
It’s important to define the segments of your document, breaking it up into bite-sized pieces so your reader is inclined to read it in its entirety. One way that you can do this is by clearly identifying headlines from your body paragraphs. For example, you might use a bold sans-serif heading font with a plain serif body text font. You generally don’t want to mix two similar typefaces as they won’t provide enough contrast.

5. Eliminate excessive emphasis in your text.
You should be able to emphasize the words without excessive use of bold, italic or underlines. As you are designing, zoom out and look at the page from a distance. If your text is littered with tons of bold segments, italics and underlines, you might want to rethink what you’re doing.

6. Be consistent.
Consistency is key to building a brand style, or just having a stronger, more professional-appearing message. If your headings are set in a particular font, size and color, don’t switch it midway through a document, unless you have a good reason for it. The best way to maintain consistency through a multipage document, or from document to document, is to set style sheets.

Each software program handles style sheets differently, so if you aren’t sure how to use them you may want to visit your software developer’s help section for a tutorial. Time spent learning how to use style sheets will be a great investment for your future designs.

Just remember to keep it simple.
When all is said and done, the important thing to remember is to keep it simple. And simple doesn’t have to mean boring, but instead discerning–keeping an editor’s eye on your design and font selections, so that your message doesn’t get lost in your design.

Do you have more typography suggestions? Share them below in the comments!

Magazine Cover Design Inspiration

At MagCloud, we’ve seen a lot of magazine covers and know that the cover can significantly influence the popularity of an issue. Today, we’re sharing a few online resources that can provide more “food for thought” when you’re sitting down to design the cover of your next issue.

We know our customers’ design experience and expertise ranges significantly so no matter where on the spectrum you fall, it’s best to stay updated on the latest design software and trends available to you.

Let’s dive right in. Layers Magazine is an invaluable resource for designers of all sorts. Whether you’re looking to build a better portfolio or want to know how to make your magazine cover stand out among the rest, the website offers a variety of sections with tips and tricks for getting the most out of Adobe’s design tools.

Typography arguably plays an important role for your cover. Even if your magazine is image-driven, there is still a need to spend time researching trends and case studies before thoughtfully selecting a font. Don’t know where to start? Typophile’s Typography 101 will have you weighing the pros and cons of Venetian vs. Garalde types in no time. If you get stuck or have a question about using a specific font, head on over to the forum section and ask the experts!

For help designing graphics to insert into your magazine layout, check out Abduzeedo, which has a section devoted to daily inspirations for designers. Their interview section features established photographers, graphic artists, illustrators and others that can also provide real inspiration when you’ve hit a wall with your issue. Finally, Designmoo and 365psd let you download free graphic design files and collaborate with a community of designers.

It’s also essential to stay on top of today’s trends in print design. Visit Colourlovers for the latest in color trends and Trendland for trends across all mediums. It’s truly a go-to site for every designer.

Have a favorite site, blog or resource that we didn’t mention? Share it in the comments below! And, don’t forget to share this article. Your friends and followers will thank you!