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Standard Rules and Procedures for Typography

written by: Laura Jean Karr•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 1/17/2011

Learn more about the most common standard rules in use today when it comes to using typography.

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    Common Rules for Modern Day Type

    When it comes to the layout, design and full usage of type there are certain standards that should be followed when it comes to using typography. The standards, along with some typography procedures are used to keep items of type somewhat uniform in design and pleasing to the eye. Having a type project that is printable is one of the reasons that standards are in place, for without them there would be no conformity to books, newspapers and other informational texts.

    There are many standards and procedures within the typography field. Sometimes publishers or companies will set an additional set of standards depending on the needs of their publications and usage of type. Also, the standards that were once in place for typewriter use have changed since the use of computers has become so prevalent . Here we are going to take a look at the most common typography standards and procedures that should be used to form a basic set of design rules when working with typography.

    For more information on typography, check out Typographic Principles of Design and Typography: Element of Repetition.

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    Use One Space

    A common mistake that is often made in today's typography use is that of using the old typewriter guideline of using two spaces between the period of a sentence and the capitalization of the next sentence. For example, on a typewriter the beginning of this sentence would look like "sentence.__For example" on the page. When using a keyboard for computer use, there is no need to add that extra space.

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    Use of Caps

    Another mistake is in using type in all caps. Formerly used TO GET A POINT ACROSS when working on a typewriter, the modern usage should be limited to style of font type. The meaning of all caps now translates to yelling at the reader and no longer helps to get a point across. With the use of certain fonts for style purposes, all caps can help to enhance the overall design of a piece but that is the only time that the all caps should be used in today's typography world. The most commonly used typefaces for use with caps in a design are basic sans serif and small or tilting type sets that come in all caps.

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    Type Size and Line Length

    It is important when using certain type size that the length of the text being used coincides with that type size. For example, if there is a block of text where the type size is set at 10 pt, the length of that text will be shorter than that of text which uses a type size of 12 pt. If the type length is too short, then letters can become hard to read and appear to be squished together by the reader. On the other side of the coin, if the type length is too long, the letters will have too much spacing in between and won't make sense to the reader while scanning the text. The general standard rule to follow is: the shorter the line the smaller the type should be.

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    More Common Rules

    Other common standard rules and procedures are as follows:

    • No double-hard returns after paragraphs
    • Use simple fonts for blocks of type
    • Rarely use centered text
    • Keep fonts used clean. This means that up to three fonts can be used but they all must compliment each other within the design. Too many fonts confuse the reader and make the text almost impossible to read through.

Understanding Typography

Learn more about the many aspects of typography. From keening to letter design, this series will help give a better understanding of what typography is and what role it plays in desktop publishing.
  1. What is Typography?
  2. Advantages of Typography
  3. Standard Rules and Procedures for Typography
  4. 5 Style Families of Typography
  5. Anatomy of Typography