Re: Online vs. Print - formatting of heads and text

Subject: Re: Online vs. Print - formatting of heads and text
From: "Dick Margulis " <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2002 11:44:08 -0500


<archly>Online, just use "Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif" for everything and be done with it. Accept user-defined browser defaults for sizes if you like or, choose other sizes at the risk of annoying purists.</archly>

For print (which I actually care about), there is no single accepted standard. The goal of the designer is to establish a visual style that accomplishes two seemingly contradictory goals:

1. Create a look unique to the company or the series so that a casual observer will instantly (although subsconsciously) recognize the style.

2. Make that look so unobtrusive that the reader never consciously notices it.

Neat trick, huh?

To that end, you need to:

1. Remain within the traditional, well understood, established limits regarding point sizes, line spacing, column widths, etc., to maintain readability.

2. Follow contemporary design idioms to some extent (to avoid looking too dated).

3. Within those boundaries, apply imagination and taste to arrive at a satisfactory result.

Now the question on the floor, I believe, is Okay, Dick, so how do I do that?

Well, I'd suggest going to a bookstore or library and looking at books. Books in all categories and fields. Find the ones that appeal to you and analyze what makes them appealing, paying attention to fonts, page layout (margins, white space, design grid), and so forth.

Then go home and try a few things on your own, so you can formulate a more refined set of questions. Then go back to the bookstore and browse again, with these more detailed questions in mind.

Then do some reading. I recommend Edward Tufte's books, and anything by Bruce Rogers (you'll need to go to a source of out-of-print books for the latter).

Then practice some more.

Have fun!


"Miller, Robert C. - Iowa City" <MillRo -at- ncs -dot- com> wrote:

>Can anyone point me to a source for information about current, accepted
>formatting - san serif heads with serif text, font size for heading 1, 2,
>etc. versus size of body text, use of ital and bold for different head
>levels. Thanks.

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