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This is part two of our series on creating more effective publications, and making your graphic design work harder during these hard times. (Part One)

Typography speaks to your readers

Typographic voice reinforces the message of your publication

We know that every design, every image and every typeface has a different personality. It is the designer's grave obligation to select and utilize these visual elements to fully reinforce the message and meaning of the publication. This is not as easy of a task as one might expect -- and as evidenced by all the bad publications out there, many designers don't yet get it.

The two main categories of typefaces are display type and text type. Although they are frequently interchangeable, their improper use can seriously damage the success of the publication. Typeface selection is very personal, and although subjective, long established rules of proper use should be observed. The most important rule dictates that the designer evaluate and analyze the project, the available visual elements (photos, logos, graphics, texts, etc.,) and then select fonts that portray a visual message in alignment with the message -- the typography should look like the product, subject or message. This is of paramount importance.

So to achieve this goal, the designer must ask questions about the nature of the subject. Is the message calm and dignified? That might call for a classic, old style serif font. Is the message fun and playful? That might call for a mixture of sans, and a modern humanistic display. Is the message serious or forboding? Then perhaps angular, sharp corners and heavy blacks are in order. It is up to the designer to correctly identify the personality of the project, then search for the typeface for both body text and headlines that best personifies that personality and emotion.

Special thanks goes out to StockLayouts for granting permission for the use of their publishing templates in this article. By the way, all of these and many others are professionally designed and available for use in your publications.

layout for a childrens publication

Human, organic, health, kids = fun, playful yet serious

In this "Kids Health" publication, the subject spoke to the designer and dictated a colorful, varied presentation. While the underlying grid is structured to purvey the texts in a highly readable fashion, the designer was able to take liberties with the presentation of the display type to evoke the message. Here, the use of a round-terminal sans in conjunction with a traditional sans sends the message of youthful excitement. On the inner pages, changing display type further reinforces the message of different personalities for different content passages in addition to helping separate and develop a hierarchy for the textural content being presented. For body type, a classic serif, or even a more modern, playful font like ITC Flora can relax the seriousness of the subject for more inviting reading. This is a visually exciting and fun layout, and makes for repeat reading.

layout for a school publication

Human, organic, education, young adults = important, serious, financial

While still pertaining to children and young people, The Honor Roll publication deals with a subject which is perceived as somewhat serious and important to the readership. Where the Kids publication was more targeting parents of young children -- this one purveys important information to parents of school age children and thus dictates a somewhat more serious approach. Pertaining to education, the layout must be well organized, clearly presented, and evoke a sense of learned documentation. Here, an unimposing sans works best, and while the text can be more traditional, it calls for a staunch classic like Garamond, Caslon or Baskerville. This kind of publication would not want to go so far into an academic presentation as perhaps a college or university publication would, so there are opportunities to 'lighten' the presentation through generous white space, and an openness in article divisions. This is a very handsome layout that speaks a certain sophistication without being stuffy.


Organic, natural, serious, adult = straightforward, traditional

This layout design is for an ecological nonprofit. This is important information meant to both inform and encourage participation. It needs to be serious while maintaining the look and feel of nature -- and succeeds nicely in the task. In this layout we switch specifically to a modern sans with an authoritative look and feel. While the leaf and foliage motif sends the natural/nature message, the text is handled with an academic, structured approach. Notice the body texts are justified -- which always evokes a more literary, structured appearance. Notice also that no deviation is made from the 'official' display type -- the headline font remains the same -- only size and color changes in the various hierarchy of presentation. This publication needs to present the information in an authoritative manner to suggest an intellectual personality -- something to be believed and taken seriously. The organization will ask for donations and support. So it must be convincing. This kind of typography will reinforce that message -- in this inviting publication about pressing issues.

To be continued...

There are several others in this series, and we'll be back mid-month with the next installment. In the meantime, take a look at any project you've got on your agenda and ask serious questions about the nature and personality of the message. Whether you are announcing an alumni banquet, selling cereal, or building an ad for the telephone book yellow pages, your message will have a decided visual personality that must be purveyed in the type fact, type style and posture of all the typography in the visual gulp. This is mandatory. So ask the right questions, and conjure the right answers. Experiment and do two or three variations using faces you feel are appropriate. Tack it to the wall, stand back, and ask if it sends the right message. Your insights will improve, and your designs will soar!

And, as always, the Design & Publishing Center is here to help. Perhaps you need a 3rd party assessment? Then, you may want to consider our Publications Makeover Clinic to let you know how good or bad your publication is! If you have further questions, or problems, just drop us a line , or log into the Design Cafe where you'll get help from others who have been there! I also frequent that forum, so I'll see your query as well.

Thanks for reading! Until next time... keep on learning

Fred Showker
      Fred Showker, Editor/Publisher

Also see:
Ready to use Newsletter templates Department
Thinking In Type: The Practical Philosophy Of Typography
Design: Type with Character
Business: Rise of the Designer / Copywriter
Marketing: The 10 Commandments of Guerrilla Marketing Design
Business: Designing For Print On A Budget
Design: Designing an interactive PDF newsletter
Business: Freelance Marketing Exercises

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