(1) Insert Only a Single Space After All Punctuation
The use of two spaces dates back to when we were taught how to use a typewriter. Two spaces interrupt the flow of the eye, leading to an unnecessary pause. Using one space helps the viewer easily read the content on the page.
(2) Always, Always Spell Check
Once the design is complete, spell check all of the text. This is done two ways and both must be used. First, in most software programs, there is spell check available. Use it. Second, print the document and have another person read through the text. Even if it is text given to you by a client, spell check it. Never assume that it is correct.
(3) Use Proper Quote and Apostrophe Marks
Use true quotation marks and apostrophes instead of using inch marks and feet marks. Determine who your audience is before deciding where to put your punctuation as it differs across the globe: http://bit.ly/1DE7hMA. Most software today have their preferences set to default to what are called “smart quotes”, therefore we must be diligent to replace proper quotation marks with inch and foot marks when needed. To access these letterforms, open the glyphs palette.
(4) Increase Leading to Improve Readability
Leading refers to the space between lines of text. It is important for the purpose of readability and appearance. Leading is measured from baseline to baseline.
(5) Altering Fonts
Don’t alter the widths, weight, or shapes of the characters. Type design is an art. Each character has been carefully designed taking into consideration the width, weight and the shape of each character (stress, stroke and serif.) Graphic software allows us to destroy/alter the original design. Inexperienced designers use this option to “force” type to fit. Select typefaces with large families if you need the flexibility in widths and weights.
(6) Justification of Text
Although fully justified text may look clean and refined, it is extremely difficult to perfect and therefore is not suggested for use with body copy. Left-aligned text is easier to read and easier to set. Justified text is more difficult to set without the inevitable word spacing problems. Right-aligned and centered are generally not used for body text due to hampered legibility.
Decide what to emphasize. Which elements will receive the most emphasis? Which one or two messages do you want to get attention? Play up these elements. Everything else is secondary to those pieces of information. Use white space to bring the elements closer together or to isolate the elements and draw attention to them.
(8) Use Proper Dashes and Hyphens
An “em” dash is a type of punctuation used to offset clauses in a sentence or to indicate an abrupt change in thought. Em dashes can also be used to denote a quote. “En” dashes are used to denote any type of duration. Hyphens are used to form compound words such as twenty-one, out-of-bounds. Hyphenation of longer words also occurs in body copy, however a minimum of three characters before and after the hyphen is required.
To create an em dash use the keyboard shortcut [shift + option + hyphen].
To create an en dash use the keyboard shortcut [option + hyphen].
(9) Ellipsis Character
Use the ellipsis character and not the three periods. You can create the ellipsis character by using the keyboard shortcut [option + semicolon].
(10) Avoid Widows and Orphans
Widows are either single words alone on a line or single sentences alone on a new page. Orphans are single lines of copy alone at the end of a page or top of a column.
(11) Keep Edges of Paragraphs Clean
It is important that the eye is not visually distracted and fatigued when reading large amounts of body copy. Make sure that the “rag” or ragged edge (in this paragraph’s case, the right side is ragged) does not have extreme differences in width.
Manual adjustments may be needed to clean up ragged paragraph edges. Try not to have any more than two hyphens in a row. Manual adjustments and settings in the program can be made to aide in keeping everything in order; such as using a soft return (shift + return) to move a word to the next line.
Typography and context
Any font can be used as long as it is in the correct context.