Typography For The Web

Description: A lot of people don't even know what typography is, let alone how it relates to the web. So what is it and should you be paying attention to it?

Most people who don't know anything about the ins and outs of typography only think about what they are going to write and how to fit it onto their web page so it looks halfway decent.

While that last part does relate to the subject of typography in a very loose way, if you want to create a website that is rather more pleasing to the eye it's worth learning about typography in order to make that a reality.

So what exactly is it anyway?

While typography does relate to the way that words are constructed and put together on the page - by way of typefaces, punctuation and so on - it also relates to the way the whole thing looks. We've all come across websites that have a whole block of text with seemingly no breaks, no paragraphs and very little punctuation, and we recognize immediately that it will be hard work to read, so we usually go elsewhere.

Good typography means that would never happen. It's similar to proofreading in that if the person responsible does their job properly, you will never even know they were there in the first place.

Typography for the web is a little different to typography for the printed page, purely because the media on which it appears is so different. The printed page is made up of tiny printed dots crammed together, while a computer screen is made up of thousands of pixels. Not so different you may think, but the lower resolution of a computer screen and the added lighting means that we should take extra care when composing and presenting any piece of text for the viewer.

It shouldn't therefore be assumed that whatever works best on paper will work equally as well on the computer screen. In fact the opposite is often true. Some of the most popular typefaces used in printing work dreadfully when used for web pages, so it's always worth checking style guides and tutorial websites to see which ones are recommended. Verdana is a particularly good one to use.

You also need to consider the subject of your website when deciding on layout, typeface and other visual constraints. It's worthwhile doing your research here and looking at other successful websites in your field to see how they have been designed. While they may not all have borne in mind the subject of typography when they were created, they might still throw up some interesting points which you can use when designing your own site.

You should always remember that it's possible to get so bogged down in the issues of typography that your website will never even see the light of day. Plenty of website owners have published excellent sites and never even heard of typography, so it's not necessarily essential to know a lot about it.

But with that said, a general appreciation of the subject can only do you and your website the world of good.

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