Thursday, 21 March 2013

Exercise 6 - experiment with layouts

Experimenting with different fonts for headings, captions, and sample body text has been interesting. The "rules" state that serif fonts are best for large sections of text as it easier for the eye to scan as these fonts flow from one character to the next. Sans-serif fonts are best used for headings and captions. I was also surprised to read that a mix of font types is best on a page as long as no more than three fonts are used. This was a surprise to me as I'd always assumed it best to stick to one font to keep the layout simple and to just vary the size for headings and body text. This was a rule I used to stick to when writing reports in my previous life as a computer engineer. This misapprehension probably came about because in that world nobody really cared that much about the style of a report it was the contents that were important. In the publishing world a visual approach is more appropriate and I can see how style matters. 

Layout 1:

In layout 1 I used Verdana bold 16pt for my heading. The body text is Georgia regular 8pt and the caption is Arial regular 8pt. I stuck with the rules and ensured that I chose a sans-serif heading and caption and used serif for the body text. The heading is bold and the caption and body text are regular.

Layout 2:

This layout uses the same fonts only made larger - 18pt for the heading and 10pt for the body text and the caption is kept at 8pt. When printed out the first layout is visually neater and looks more professional. On the other hand the larger font of the second layout is easier to read - particularly for people like me whose eyesight is not that brilliant. There appears to be a trade off between these two aspects that needs to be thought about when planing a layout.

Layout 3:

I chose Verdana regular instead of bold and kept the size to 18pt. A completely different font, Helvetica light oblique, was used at 10pt for the body text. The caption remains the same at Arial regular 8pt. This font looks okay on screen but very wishy-washy when printed. The difference between how all the fonts look on screen and when printed is quite marked. Generally the fonts look larger on paper than on screen and this has to be taken into account.

 Layout 4:

Times New Roman bold at 20pt was chosen for the heading on this layout. The body text is Trebuchet MS regular at 8pt and the caption is Arial Narrow italic, 8pt. I deliberately chose a serif font for the heading to see if breaking the rule would really matter. The font does look a bit odd now. I probably wouldn't have thought too much about it before if I'm honest. Now I'll probably find myself analysing fonts whenever I look at anything and making a judgement of some kind. I think I have a bit of a steep learning curve ahead of me again.

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