The Number One Kern

Another example of poor typography—one that would certainly define an artist’s typography as amateurish—is one that we’ve seen again and again on everything from ads to outdoor boards. It occurs with the use of the number “1” and any number either before or after it. The number “1” is seldom kerned tight enough to its surrounding numerals in any font. I always begin by kerning the number “1” at least a minus 15 on both sides. That should get you close to where you want to be. Then, after proofing, further adjustment is still very often called for.

Without this adjustment, dates and numbers tend to fall apart, particularly when other copy surrounds them. As a result, a date such as 1982 can easily appear to be, at first glance, two sets of numbers, “1” and “982”, for example.

Let’s not forget we are hired as graphic artist professionals, to make our clients’ and company’s information credible and understandable. Just a little attention to detail can make you a true specialist.

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Published in: on July 22, 2009 at 4:14 pm  Leave a Comment  

What Was That You Said?

In a previous post, I said that there were 3 main ways in which poor typography impacted the reader: legibility, credibility and brand equity.

Legibility can be greatly diminished by poor typography. We’ve all seen headlines where the arm of a capital letter, for example a “T” and the letter immediately following it don’t nest tightly together. The result is that there is an unnatural, subtle visual break. Rather than the eye naturally and smoothly flowing from one word to the next, it wants to pause. Headlines set in this way can have an almost broken appearance. Consider the all capital setting of the word “WAS” To the eye, this can almost be read as “W AS”. Depending upon the word preceding it and the word spacing, the “W” could be seen as belonging to the previous word.

I realize that the mind is eminently capable of piecing this puzzle together, but when the time we have to impact our reader with a sales message can be measured in seconds, do we really want to waste any of that valuable time by forcing them to slow down to understand our what we’re saying?

Next time, I’ll address other examples of poor spacing to be avoided.

Published in: on July 7, 2009 at 12:11 am  Leave a Comment  

Who Cares about Quality Anymore?

It has been said that quality is it’s own reward. One of the aspects of “desktop publishing” is that the subtleties of good typography have been eroded, and the absence of typographic excellence is very often not missed. Yet, just because it is not missed on a conscious level, does not mean its loss doesn’t have an impact. The loss can be felt in at least 3 main ways: there is a loss in legibility, a loss in credibility and a loss in brand equity.

In upcoming entries, I will expand on each these losses.

Published in: on July 2, 2009 at 9:54 pm  Leave a Comment