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Typography Series 3: Hierarchy Tips That’ll Put You On Top

Typography Series 3: Hierarchy Tips That’ll Put You On Top

Posted on Feb 12, 2019 by

There’s absolutely nothing worse than having to search through hundreds of words just to find the answer that you’re looking for. Much like us, readers will quickly turn away from your page if the answer they’re looking for is not readily available. For this exact reason, paying attention to the typographic hierarchy of your paper is super important to keeping readers engaged.

In case you’re not familiar with the phrase, “Typographic Hierarchy” is basically just a fancy term for organizing the information in your writing based on importance. Whether you’re writing an important editorial or designing a concert flyer, you can achieve typographic hierarchy using these four tactics:

Size & Weight

When you’re going for typographic hierarchy, the reader should be able to easily locate the most important data. One of the best ways to do this is by playing with the size and weight of the type that you’re using. The most important information such as location, time, or even the title should be in a bigger, bolder font. Not only does this make the overall document look better, but it turns the reader’s natural gaze to the most important information.

Color

There’s much more to color than simply choosing the prettiest colors on the web. When using colors to achieve typographic hierarchy, it’s important to take into consideration which colors you’re using. Warmer colors, such as red, yellow, and orange, tend to pop while the cooler colors, such as blues, greens, and purples, tend to fade into the text. The most important information should be in warm colors whereas information that is not as crucial should be written in cooler colors. Sticking to 2-3 different colors is the best way to keep the use of color effective. Using much more than that can ruin the effect and leave your reader overwhelmed and confused. Remember that color is not a necessity but it is best used as a complement.

Position & Spacing

The way in which your document is positioned and spaced is one of the first things that a reader will notice. Before even reading the text, they’ll notice a messy, unorganized paper from the way that it is spaced. This is also a quite literal way of achieving hierarchy as it is better to put the most important information towards the top of the document and the least important information towards the bottom. Subtitles should be positioned either above the paragraph or next to it in order to clearly indicate which topics will be expressed in each paragraph.

When it comes to spacing, it’s pretty obvious that information that is related to one other should be grouped together. However, you want to make sure that there is a clear distinction between the spacing of unrelated information. Instead of simply pressing “enter” after every paragraph, play around with the “paragraph spacing” section of your formatting settings. This allows you to adjust the spacing for before and after each paragraph.

Font Choice

Although it may be easy to stick with the classic “Times New Roman” or “Helvetica” when it comes to font, using a variety of fonts can actual help achieve successful typographic hierarchy. Much like color, you only want to have a maximum of 2-3 font varieties throughout your paper. Using one font for subtitles and another for body text can help guide readers towards the information they’re looking for much faster. Plus, it helps the paper look extra aesthetic when done correctly.

Typographic hierarchy is one of best ways to optimize the effectiveness of any document or piece of writing. It gives you the power to control which information you want your reader to see first or maybe at all. When done correctly, it’ll increase the readability of your writing and make for some really happy readers. It can even draw readers to keep reading through to the very end of your document! Love these tips? Make sure you check out our tips on punctuation & paragraph alignment and tune in for the next addition in our series…

Da Jin Kim

Advertising Student, UT Austin; Social Media and Marketing Intern; Avid movie watcher and coffee drinker; Dallas Mavericks Super Fan. Follow Her on Twitter @dajin_kim

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