Five Don’ts of Typography

Five Don’ts of Typography

WARNING: This article may cause you to notice bad typography all around you. It might even cause you to annoy everyone you know, because you’ll develop an uncontrollable urge to point it out every chance you get.

Typography is essentially the art and science of visually displaying words. It requires a fine eye for detail and elegance. Here are five simple guidelines — or don’ts — to help achieve a greater level of detail in your own typography:

Don’t Stretch and Warp Text

This is perhaps the most important rule, and that’s why I listed it first. Unless you are designing something that’s being distorted by a warp in the fabric of space-time (such as something being sucked into a black hole), or something that is to be viewed at an extreme angle (such as the word “STOP” painted on the ground at an intersection), then you have to promise not to stretch and warp text.


Typographers spend their lives making sure their fonts are perfect. When a typeface is stretched, all their hard work and attention to detail is lost. A good alternative to stretching a typeface is to find a font with condensed or wide-width characters.

Don’t Touch That Small-Cap Button

Adobe programs have a button that can quickly turn any typeface into small caps, but don’t touch it! When you hit that small caps button, it just shrinks the previously lowercase words into uppercase ones at a smaller size.


The difference is small, but when you analyze the two sentences above, you can see the typeface on the top looks better than the typeface on the bottom. This is because the typeface on the top was carefully designed and drawn by a typographer, while the typeface on the bottom is a preset rendering. Use a font with a predesigned small caps style, such as the font shown above, Bodoni 72 Smallcaps Book.

Don’t Use Inch Marks for Quotation Marks

You’re probably thinking, “This is such a small punctuation mark. Who cares?” Well, remember that typography is all about the fine details. When you look closely, you can see that inch marks are straight up and down, and quotation marks are round or slanted depending on the font.


While Microsoft Word and Adobe software automatically turn inch marks to quotation marks, HTML won’t. If you want quotation marks on your website use this code:

“ and ”

Don’t Forget About Hanging Punctuation

While we’re on the topic of quotation marks, it’s only right to bring up another common mistake that people make with them: forgetting to use hanging punctuation. Hanging punctuation is when you move the quote marks outside of the text box, allowing all the words to align with the left of the text box. It’s evident in the example below that moving the quotation marks outside the text box can make or break the look of your quote.


Don’t Be Afraid to Use Comic Sans

Yes, you read that correctly.

People make jokes about Comic Sans all the time. Some make it seem like an innately evil font sent to earth to destroy good design, but the truth is that every font has a purpose. It’s your job as the designer to match the correct font with a message. When someone is making fun of Comic Sans, they’re actually making fun of the designer’s wrongful use of the font in a certain situation, not the font itself. If the right situation comes around, don’t be afraid to use Comic Sans (just use it sparingly).


The five rules I’ve listed might go unnoticed by the average person, but remember, it’s the small details that make typography so great. By following these five small don’ts, you can go from a WordArt wannabe to a tasteful typographer.


 Hurrdat is a Lincoln, Nebraska, digital marketing agency specializing in social media and content marketing. The company was founded in 2010 and merged with B² Interactive of Omaha, Nebraska, in 2014 bringing even more digital marketing specialties to both firms’ clients. Together they provide a full range of social media, SEO, and website development services to both national brands and local clients. The companies employ more than 80 people in Nebraska and have won multiple awards for their business efforts, company culture, and clients’ campaigns.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Share This