Message & Media: The Power of Typography
• How big should type be? The answer varies by typeface, application and audience. But here are guidelines.
Bly suggests 12-point font for e-mail marketing messages and at least 12-point for Web page design. He says the most common error in Web page design is using a font that's too small.
For older eyes, Medina recommends at least 11-point font for body copy; and, if there's any doubt, go up a size. Letters should be in 11-point or 12-point serif type. Online, he agrees with Bly—11- or 12-point minimum.
Overall, most designers say it depends on the typeface and what's readable for your audience. But 10- to 12-point is usually best for body copy. However, don't fixate on point size alone.
• Typography is about pacing and message mapping. It's important to use type as a visual guide for scanners and readers. Eye flow is, in large part, a function of typography.
Ask yourself, "Where do I want the eye to go first?" Using the choices within a typeface encourages reader ship and controls eye flow. For example, put benefit headlines and subheads in a bold sans serif font for easy scanning and added emphasis. Use italics for customer testimonials to make them stand apart from unquoted words. Create a hierarchy of type used for headlines, subheads, captions, sidebars, bullets and callouts to guide your reader to your call to action.
On the Web, vertical rhythm—the spacing and arrangement of text as the reader scrolls down the page—is influenced by font size, line height, and margins or padding. All must be calculated with care to keep the reader scrolling.
Many marketers think typography consists of selecting a typeface, choosing a font size and deciding between regular or bold. For most, it ends there. But there's a lot more involved in good typography. It's these details that often go neglected and take their toll on both readership and response.