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9 Rules Using Text in Graphics

Spooky

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I've decided to introduce you 9 rules to respect when using text in graphics. They helped me a lot, so, I hope it will help you too.

1. Every font has a personality. And people like some personalities better than others. So what's the rule here? Know your audience, know your document's purpose, and pick a font that matches your audience's expectations and your document's purpose. Get this rule wrong, and you've ruined the entire document.

2. If you use the default font in Word or InDesign, you're telling the world that you didn't know there are any other options. Times New Roman and Calibri aren't bad fonts. They are just overused. Go back to Rule #1 and think about personality. Could there be something better than the default? In most cases, the answer is yes.

3. Some fonts have gained so much popularity that we can consider them clichés—overused and kind of obnoxious. This happens because most computers have many of the same fonts. If you can't find a font on your computer that meets your document's personality and isn't cliché or ugly, then install a new font. It's easy and it can make all the difference.

4. Most documents look better if you use more than one font. But few look good if you use more than three. So what do you need to remember? No matter what the document is, try using two fonts—one font for the headings and another font for the body text. It will make your document pop so much more than just using one. This rule applies to all documents, from proposals to résumés to business cards.

5. While it is good to use two fonts, it is bad to use two fonts that look like each other. So pick two fonts that come from different font families—serifs (like Times New Roman), sans serifs (like Arial), script (anything that looks like handwriting), or decorative. Make sure fonts look very different from each other.

6. Because 12-point font was the MS Word default for so long, many of us began to think that 12-point is the best size for reading. But our eyes can actually read smaller just fine. 10-point fonts look better in most docu ments. And you can even go down to a 7- or 8- point font on a business card. Also, headings should be larger than body text and the most important thing on the document should be the biggest.

7. We read words in shapes. That's how our brain reads so fast. But when we write words in ALL CAPS, the shapes go away—words all turn into rectangles. So when you write out a bunch of words in all caps, it slows down reading. To the person reading, all caps also looks like you're yelling at them.

8. Readability refers to how well large quantities of text (entire paragraphs) read. Readability is affected by font size, font type, leading (space between lines), kerning (space between letters), and line length.

9. Legibility, as opposed to readability, refers to how well short bursts of text (like a logo or name) reads. For words that are important to be understood, legibility is critical. On a résumé, for example, you'll want to use a typeface that is legible for your name. Note that legibility is affected by the actual letters in a word. Sometimes one word will read perfectly fine in a particular font, but another word will be difficult to read in the same font. If a name or word is uncommon or spelled uniquely, you won't want to choose a typeface that is difficult to read.
 
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