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Chapter 17. Typography

Here are some general guidelines about the use of type.

  1. Use a simple, straightforward, easy-to-read typeface. Lots of beautiful typefaces are almost impossible to read; they detract from your presentation.

    Two typefaces that always work are Helvetica, which is called sans-serif— without “feet”—and looks like

    and Times Roman, which is called a serif—with “feet”—and looks like

  2. Use upper and lower case.

    DON’T USE ALL CAPS FOR LARGE BLOCKS OF TYPE. READERS READ FASTEST WHEN SENTENCES ARE PRINTED IN UPPER AND LOWER CASE—THE WAY THEY NORMALLY ARE SEEN IN PRINT. HEADLINES ARE SET IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE THEY REQUIRE THE READER TO SLOW DOWN, GIVING EMPHASIS TO A FEW WORDS. WASN’T THIS BLOCK OF ALL CAPS DIFFICULT TO READ?


    Compare:

    Don’t use all caps for large blocks of type. Readers read fastest when sentences are printed in upper and lower case—the way they normally are seen in print. Headlines are set in all caps because they require the reader to slow down, giving emphasis to a few words. Wasn’t this better?


  3. Check, recheck, and get someone else to check correctness of numbers, grammar, punctuation, spelling.

  4. Limit yourself to one or two typefaces consistently throughout your presentation.

  5. Italics are least likely to be read. Save them for disclaimers (The Surgeon General has determined…) Don’t use them for emphasis because they don’t give it.

  6. Don’t use more than three type sizes on one visual. Reserve the largest size for emphasis.

  7. Do you want numbers or bullets?

    Numbers send these messages:

    1. order of importance.

    2. chronological order.

      Bullets are more generic:

    • they give each item equal importance.

    • they don’t distract from the words that follow them.


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