Message & Media: The Power of Typography
I guarantee this column is worth reading if you’re responsible for using words to generate more clicks, calls or traffic through the door.
No, this isn’t about writing copy. It’s about increasing readership by increasing readability—the importance of the specific typefaces and fonts selected.
While I’m not a direct mail or Web page designer, I am a writer who knows the right people to ask for tips and techniques related to type.
So, my thanks up front to Patrick Fultz, an extraordinary direct mail designer who also teaches typography at New York City’s Parsons School of Design; Bob Bly, the wizard of words no matter which typeface delivers them; Brent Niemuth, a master of merging words and design; and Kurt Medina, an expert on how to get things read by consumers older than 50.
Here are some of the tenets of typography they shared. Keep in mind: These rules are to be broken whenever you have a good reason for doing so.
• Select typefaces and fonts for their readability. For the record, a typeface is a set of fonts in the same family, such as Arial or Goudy. A font is a single kind of typeface, whether it is Times New Roman bold or Times New Roman in 10 point. For readability in print, this generally means using a serif typeface for body copy and sans serif for headlines, subheads and smaller pieces of copy, such as callouts or captions. Why?
Fultz explains it this way: Serif type has thick and thin lines with horizontal serifs that pull your eye across the page. Eyes love serif type for denser copy such as books, brochures, ads and magazines.