The Design Center / Typography Department / Alex White / Typography Craftsmanship / Designing headlines  

... in the series on Typographic Craftsmanship, with help from Alex White...

Alex White: How space affects typography

Alex provides us with undeniable evidence of dynamic spaces in his book The Elements of Graphic Design.
On the topic of writing headlines, he discusses static verses dynamic space and how each can play an important role in delivering meaning to a layout.

Don't use a pyramid

Yet Alex warns:

Passive white space is static. it looks motionless and "left over." It isn't used to guide or draw the reader into the design. Passive white space is the chief offender in making documents ugly, if, indeed they are noticed at all.

use an inverted pyramid in centered headlines

But this is not to dissuade the use of centered or symmetrical design.
"Symmetry is a predictable arrangement that implies order and balance. " says Alex,
"It suggests playfulness and stability."

Above all, as Alex points out above, is the use of headline or display type not only sets the tone and action for a design -- but brings the reader's eye to the entry point of the story. I see too many headlines that end at a location on the page where the reader's eye must then search for the next bit of information. If the headline has done its job, the reader flows into the content. However, if you leave the reader lost on the page, in all likelihood they'll find another way out -- or at least an exit you didn't intend.

Next time you are confronted with a design project involving headlines or display type, consider building it from scratch to portray exactly the message you want to deliver to your audience. You'll find you get much better results.

Now, we'll consult with Ronnie Lipton as continue Designing Headlines

Return to the DT&G Type Department

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