5 Quick Typography Tips for Busy People

Dear CEOs, Marketing Heads, Product Managers and other busy idea-executors,

You share your ideas with your team, your investors, and of course your customers. You probably use a blog, LinkedIn or Medium. Still many times you communicate internally — like quick strategy documents or presentations, and you know looking good matters — but you are too busy to ‘design’ these. So, try these simple tips and make your message look good.

1. Ditch Calibri

Microsoft’s default font has taken over most presentations and documents — this needs to stop.

Just change it to something you like — you could even go with Arial or Helvetica. If you want to stand out further, choose Proxima Nova or Avenir. For documents, good old ones like Georgia and Baskerville work well too. But please, ditch Calibri.

2. Ditch the Cool Ones — Because they are Not

Yeah, they are awful

Sometimes, in trying to look special, you might be tempted to use Comic Sans, or Papyrus or even the cool Game of Thrones — esque Trajan. Three things. Don’t use Comic Sans, Don’t use Papyrus, and avoid anything extra-ultra-mega-cool. Sometimes, if you really have an eye for design, you might experiment with some unique typefaces (like ‘Eagle’) — and this could go well — but you are probably too busy for that.

3. Use Contrast in Typefaces

Use typefaces which look remarkably different from each other. A typeface like Helvetica has a high contrast with something like Baskerville. Look at Medium, LinkedIn or Quora — all of them have contrasting typefaces for the section headings and the body text — it makes the document very easy to read. Short trick — use Helvetica or Arial for headings and Georgia for body text. (Georgia works especially well on screens)

4. Take Care of Context

Typefaces have personalities. Baskerville is the old and dignified gentleman, Helvetica is a slightly formal nice guy, Futura is the cool and efficient knowledge worker. But enough detail — just have this basic contrast in mind — classy vs. modern. Classy typefaces look more complex and involved, like Baskerville, Georgia, Times New Roman. Modern ones mostly have clear geometric shapes like Avenir, Futura, and Century Gothic. Simple shortcut to differentiate — look at the ‘o’ — if it’s a perfect circle, it’s a modern typeface, and if it’s an oval, it’s more classy. Use them according to the context — formal or casual.

5. Use shadows when using Text on Images

Many times your presentation has a compelling image and some text on it — in white. Due to varying colors in images, the text is sometimes blurred. Just drop a shadow on the text — to make it look clearer.

See the difference?

Here’s to clearer, good-looking written communication !