Common Typographic Pitfalls
(By Ross Collins, Professor of Communication, North Dakota State University)
1. Same font for body text and headlines.
- Choose from different type families.
2. Poor spacing, particularly in justified text.
- Adjust justification or tracking to avoid white space.
3. Typewriter habits.
- Rabbit-ear quotes, two spaces after each sentence, two hyphens for an em-dash, hyphen instead of en-dash for time period designations. For substitutions, choose from the keystroke options below (for Macintosh).
- Double typographer's quotes, open quote (dot at bottom): Option-[
- Double typographer's quotes, close quote (dot at top): Option-Shift-[
- Single typographer's quotes, or contractions ('70s) open quote (dot at bottom): Option-Shift-]
- Single typographer's quotes, close quote (dot at top): Option-]
- Bullets: Option-8
- Em-dash: Shift-Option-[hyphen key]
- En-dash: Option-[hyphen key]
- Manual hyphen: Apple-Shift-hyphen
4. Default leading.
- Choose leading to better match personality of publication.
5. Same spacing before and after a subhead.
- Draw subhead closer to text under it, more space above. (Note: formal documents may require the same spacing above and below a subhead.)
6. Widows and orphans.
- Avoid single words at the top or bottom of a column.
7. Punctuation outside quote marks (except colon and semicolon).
8. Inconsistent styles within publication.
- Same typeface, alignment, leading for all cutlines, body text, headlines.
9. Overused fonts (such as times, times roman).
10. Font doesn't fit style of publication:
- roman: dignified, graceful, austere, voice of authority.
- sans serif: contemporary and efficient, informal.
- Egyptian/slab serif: loud, persistent, shouts (less so as body text).
- specialty faces (script, blackletter, decorative): use seldom.
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