Pleasures of Design

Typefaces for headings

The typefaces chosen should give variety and definition to the subheadings. Whether to use capitals, upper and lower case, italic or bold will depend partly on the average length of the headings.

Capitals will be best suited to very short headings – if the average heading is very long, capitals will probably take up too much room and be difficult to read.

Upper and lower case can look very handsome but in order to distinguish them from the surrounding text they will have to be larger, or bold.

Bold is the usual choice for subheadings. Its extra weight means that it can be the same size as the text, although increasing the size will give it more impact. If headings are ’run on’ at the beginning of a line they should be the same size as the text.

Italic does not necessarily give emphasis to a heading. It is usually slightly lighter in weight than its related roman, so it will look different, but not stronger, unless it is much bigger.

It subheadings occur very frequently in the text, they should be neither too big nor too heavy otherwise they will dominate the page.

Subheadings do not always have to be from the same type family as the text. If a different font is used, it should be clearly different – a slab or sans serif contrasted with a serifed old face for instance – otherwise there may not be enough contrast.

more ... Headings – Part 3