Content marketing has become one the primary ways of retaining customers, attracting new clients, and generating leads, sales, and profit for a company. While the content itself on a website is incredibly important, another crucial aspect of content marketing is typography. Typography isn’t often given a lot of consideration, but there is no doubt it plays a role in strengthening your brand, creating interest in your product, and highlighting your central message.
What is typography?
Typography is a basic concept, and simply refers to the way that text is arranged on a page or document. Often times, typography is referred to as an art, as typography can be incredibly creative and innovative. Typography is great for enhancing a theme, adding personality, increasing emphasis of an idea or reinforcing a thought, demonstrating emotion, creating interest, and crafting aesthetic appeal.
While straightforward black-colored text such as this is appropriate for some forums, colorful and artistic text can be a great advertising tool. Notice how that sentence caught your attention and drew you in based on its font and color scheme alone? That’s the whole point of great typography.
Elements of Typography
You might think that typography is limited to font and color, but typography is actually much more than that. Here are the elements of typography that you should familiarize yourself with:
Typefaces: Typefaces are probably the most straightforward element of typography, and simply refer to the name of text style that is used. Examples of typeface are basics like Georgia, Arial, as well as more creative and fun ones, like Chalkduster or Noteworthy.
Fonts: Fonts aren’t just the style that the letters are designed in, like Times New Roman, Cambria, Arial, etc. Rather, font refers to both the specific style of typeface, as well as the typeface’s decided width and height. For example, Century is a typeface, but Century, size 12, bold, is a font. Although in the digital age, the term “font” is frequently synonymous with “typeface”.
Tracking: Tracking is the space between characters in a text, and is usually refers to as letter spacing. Tracking is usually pretty standard, but can be adjusted to affect text density.
Kerning: Kerning is similar to tracking, but instead of referring to space alone, it refers specifically to the white space in between letters and characters.
Line Length: As it’s name suggests, line length refers to the length of text running right to left, or horizontally, across the page. Line length can be changed by adjusting a page’s margins.
Leading: Leading is the last type of measurement and typography term you should be aware of, and measures the space between where letters sit. In other words, leading measures the distance between one line of text and the line directly above it and the line directly below it.
Each element of typography is important, and can influence how your page reads. Most people tend to focus on fonts and typefaces alone, but experimenting with kerning, line length, leading, and tracking can yield some interesting and worthwhile results.
Why is typography important?
Typography can be quite influential on visitors to your site, and can have a positive effect when done correctly. The first thing that typography does is draw people in and express a general feeling about the content that a user is about to read.
A flowing script font can demonstrate elegance and sophistication, and paired with a bolder font like in ‘BROOKLYN SOAP COMPANY’ helps hit home the significance, and trust in the product;
Hand drawn, and 3-d fonts like Club Penguin uses can be great for showing humor or fun, and are great for kids’ products;
and text like that used by charity: water is appropriate for important and more serious information.
It’s nearly impossible to read any of the above texts without triggering an emotion or an idea about who the content of the site is meant for and what type of information the text might offer.
The second reason that contributes to the importance of typography is that it keeps people reading. Too many font styles, too much color, or too much creativity can be overwhelming. For example, consider this paragraph’s worth of text and the paragraph above it. While the above fonts are certainly interesting and informative, reading an entire page’s worth of content in hot pink-colored ink isn’t enjoyable. Often times, a fun and creative font style is great for drawing the reader in, but then resorting to a more traditional font is appropriate. If you don’t, you may risk losing readers—great typography creates text that’s easy on the eyes, encouraging people to continue their perusal.
Finally, the third reason that typography is so important is that it guides the reader along, tells them what’s most important in the text, and helps them to organize information. Bolded text draws attention, bulleted lists help arrange important pieces of information for easy and instant intake, colors emphasize points, and consistency through a piece of text will keep the reader moving through it. For example, bolded headings throughout the piece allow the reader to know that you’re changing topics—by looking for bolded headings through the piece, the reader can easily navigate through the text.
The Facts About Effective Typography
Because content is king and typography is its crown, a lot of research has been done to reveal the importance of typography and see what factors influence it most. In one study conducted by Michael Bernard of Usability News, it was revealed that the most preferred typefaces were Verdana, Arial, and Comic Sans, and that Courier was most legible at font size 12, whereas Arial was most legible at font size 14. A different experiment, conducted by Errol Morris, tested whether or not typeface influences the way that people perceive information. To conduct the experiment, 40,000 readers were presented with the same passage, but in six different typefaces. The readers were then asked whether or not they agreed or disagreed with the passage. Those readers who were given the passage in Baskerville were much more likely to agree with it, especially when compared to Comic Sans and Helvetica. Clearly, both studies illustrate the importance of typography and the effect that it can have on the reader.
When creating content for a website or other marketing forum, thinking about the typography of the content is as equally as important as what the content is saying. As a content marketer, you should spend time considering how you’ll arrange text on the page, and experience with a variety of a different styles before posting.
What examples do you have that show the power of great typography?