Akira Says ... Linotype’s Monthly Typographic Tip

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Akira says ...

Typographic Tip of the Month from Linotype’s Type Director Akira Kobayashi!

July 2006: It’s in the Mix!

When one is using more than one typeface within a design, a simple guideline should be observed: the typefaces should not be too similar to one another, but rather exhibit a certain contrast. This adds a layer of suspense and diversification to the overall piece.

Sample 1: A large headline, followed by three lines of text

headline followed by three lines of text wrong
The headline above is set in Sabon® Next; the text underneath it is set in Stempel Garamond™. Both of these texts are based on similar historical models, and they appear too similar to work well together. They will not create any excitement in such a layout. This combination is too boring.

headline followed by three lines of text right
Above is a much better solution. Again, Sabon Next is used for the headline, but the text underneath is set in Linotype Univers® Condensed Light. This narrow, light sans serif is also a very noble typeface in its appearance, but its forms are very different from the headline’s. Good contrast is assured.

Sample 2: Mixing typefaces in slightly longer texts

Since most newspapers, magazines, and books are made up primarily of longer texts for extended reading, it is quite important to rely on well-defined logic when mixing typefaces in these sorts of publications. For example, if the headlines and the body text are set in typefaces that are too similar, the eye may not be able to instantaneously tell their functions apart from one another. The resulting confusion can make reading less interesting.

mixing typefaces in slightly longer texts wrong
In the example above, Linotype Syntax® is used for both the text and the headlines. Naturally, Linotype Syntax is an excellent sans serif typeface, which can be employed to set longer passages of text. Yet the differentiation shown here relies solely on the bolding of the headline. This does not generate enough contrast to be truly effective.

mixing typefaces in slightly longer texts right
More interesting is mixing a sans serif typeface with a serif one. Above, the headline is set in Compatil™ Fact, and the body copy in Compatil Text™. The combination of these two typefaces is much more interesting, as their forms show variations that are much more apparent. Although different styles, Compatil™ Fact and Compatil Text™ can be assured to work together well; they come from the same big family: the Compatil type system.


Get more information about mixing fonts:
Compatil – the first comprehensive font system
How Type Systems Make Design Easier


Curious about the typefaces used in this month’s tip?
Sabon™ Next
Stempel Garamond™
Linotype Univers
Linotype Syntax™
Compatil™ Fact
Compatil™ Text™

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