Setting type

  1. A large initial capital letter used to start an article draws the eye and sets the reader at the start of the text.
  2. Use text caps for the first few words following a very large initial cap. Otherwise, the strong initial overpowers the text letters.
  3. To create a mood with type, try the following: trendy (Avant Garde); nostalgic (Bodoni); traditional (Bookman); classic (Caslon); techie (Helvetica Condensed); friendly (Optima); informative (Times Roman); sophisticated (Goudy).
  4. The more easily read typefaces for fax messages include: Palatino, Helvetica, ITC Bookman, New Century Schoolbook and Courier. The more difficult: Times Roman and ITC Avant Garde.
  5. Increase line spacing as you increase line length. By adding a bit more white space between each line, you'll make sure the reader's eye doesn't go astray as it drops from line to line.
  6. When using more than two large initial caps on a page (or two facing pages) make sure the letters don't inadvertently spell a word. If you're going to spell something out, do it on purpose.
  7. Avoid tight word spacing. It affects the visual tone of the text block and too much or too little can affect legibility.
  8. Set punctuation the same as the word it follows. When a comma, colon or full stop follows a word set in italics or boldface, the punctuation mark should also be in bold or italic.
  9. Treat an ellipsis like a word. The ellipsis is very useful, and is almost always set incorrectly. Although it is made up of three dots, it is a single character, thus: … It shouldn't be made up of three full stops . . . Word will autocorrect three full stops to an ellipsis but you can type one directly with Alt-0133 in Windows or Op-; on a Mac.
  10. Don't omit the quotation mark when using initial caps. When a quotation mark precedes an initial letter, many people simply leave it out. Don't. It fails to utilise the strong pulling power of quotes.
  11. Use more leading for sans serif or bold type. Sans serif is more likely to suffer from "doubling", where the reader's eye doesn't drop to the next line of text, but doubles back to the same line. Bold type may require slightly more leading to lighten its weight.
  12. Figures and sans serif type don't always mix. In some cases, the lower case letter 1 and figure 1 as well as the cap I are so much alike, you can't tell them apart. This is especially important if you're setting text in which numeric formulas will appear.
  13. Consider all cap faces for special uses. Some typefaces are designed with capitals only, no lower case, like Engravers and Forum. Consider using them if you are designing a certificate or diploma.
  14. Turn the page upside down to spot "rivers" of white justification spaces. Text can develop rivers where the space between words forms a noticeable white channel. Turning it upside down makes the rivers jump out at you.
  15. Vertical type should be set from the bottom up. Consider this when placing picture credits or any other text vertically on the page.
  16. Avoid printing type on top of strong or busy backgrounds. If you want to find out why, take a look at the ads in almost any Sunday magazine supplement. Overprinting will work only if there's a strong contrast between type and background.

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