10 Things to Look Out for When Choosing a Type for Print

10 Things to Look Out for When Choosing a Type for Print main article image
Posted on July 18, 2017 by Ben Conrad

Whether you are developing pamphlets for your reception area, printing documents for the next sales meeting or creating a packet of information for an upcoming trade show, choosing the right typeface is a major consideration. Like it or not, your customers, employees and prospects will make a snap judgment when they see the documents you have so carefully prepared, and the impressions they form will likely be quite long-lasting.

If you have a web developer on staff, you will have plenty of opinions about what makes a winning typeface, but writing for standard print is far different than writing for the web. There are different rules to follow, different readability standards to consider and a whole different audience you have to please. Here are 10 critical things to look out for when choosing a typeface for your print applications.

1. Test a font for legibility

There is not that puts more strain on the eyes than a font that is hard to read. That’s why it is always crucial to test font for legibility (how easy is it to read). While a font may look great on your computer screen in a large size, it might be very heard to read when it’s printed or when it’s used in a paragraph. The best way is to just take a piece of text, format it in the font you want to test and print black on white paper. Try to read the text and you will literally feel if your eyes are making an effort. Make sure to also pass it around the office to get some second opinions.

2. Use bolding and size changes to make a point

If you are looking for a way to make your printed documents stand out without impinging their legibility, bold type and size changes can do the trick. Larger type draws the eye, while boldface reinforces the importance of what you are trying to say.

3. Be aware of color variations

Using colors in your printed documents is a great way to get your point across, but normal variations in printing presses can alter the appearance of the finished documents. That does not mean you should avoid color; it just means you should be aware of how printing technology may alter its appearance.

4. Use standard formatting for documents

If you are printing several documents with a similar theme, it is best to use a standard format and consistent fonts. Feel free to mix things up on different kinds of documents, but standardizing typefaces across similar documents is always a good idea.

5. Experiment with different paper sizes

If you want your printed documents to stand out, using non-standard paper sizes can be a big help. Pages that are larger or smaller than normal can draw the eye and hold the attention of the viewer far more than standard sized paper.

6. Improve readability with high contrast color pairs

You already know that stark black type on crisp white paper will be highly readable, but there are other high contrast color pairs that are just as readable and even more attractive. Experiment with various color combinations, test the legibility of the pages and find the sweet spot between visual appeal and readable text.

7. Steer clear of decorative fonts

Highly decorative fonts may look great to a designer, but they are often hard to read. Staying away from those busier typefaces and sticking with the basics can improve the appeal of your printed documents and help you reach the widest possible audience.

8. Use your margins wisely

When it comes to printed documents, the space you leave blank can be just as important as the space you fill up. Wide margins and the smart use of blank space can make a huge difference, so experiment with various designs until you find the best one.

9. Choose the best quality paper you can

The quality of the type is critical, but the quality of the paper holding that type can be just as important. Printing your sales documents on poor quality paper could make your firm look cheap, so pay attention to the type of stock you use.

10. Test your design

No matter how great your design looks to you, it is always helpful to seek out a second set of eyes. Whether you enlist your sales staff or hold a formal focus group, getting feedback on your chosen design is always a smart thing to do.

Choosing the right type is never easy, whether that type will be printed on paper or displayed on a computer screen. Designing the perfect printed documents will not happen overnight, but knowing what to look for can help a lot. The 10 tips listed above can help you design a better-printed document and create an easier reading experience for your audience.

We would love to hear some other tips you might use to improve your printed documents. Feel free to leave a comment below!

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