The importance of good typography

oscarsEverything that Benjamin Bannister says here is bang on. I thought the same the second I saw the card being shown to the camera.

As usual the organisation itself feels that it must take top billing so the Oscars brand is the first thing the reader sees and is the biggest thing on the page. Why?

People read from the top down so a card like this is a very simple thing to lay out. The award category should be the first thing you see when you open the envelope so that you are 100% sure you’ve been given the right one. It might sound obvious given what happened but if I was standing there in front of billion people and I’ve just been handed a blank envelope by a complete stranger I would want an obvious visual cue that I’ve got the right bit of paper in my hands as I nervously prepare to read it out.

The name to be read out should be extremely obvious with the supporting information under it in small type (it’s only incidental and will not be read out so there’s no need to have it even as large as Benjamin Bannister has illustrated above).

Bad typography is everywhere in corporate communications and big companies are every bit as guilty as small ones. Some of the Powerpoint presentations I’ve come across would almost make your eyes water. They are often badly organised with no thought whatsoever given to the importance of individual items on the page, how the information flows, how readable the information is (small text set over busy images seems to be a particular favourite) or how appropriate the font choice is for the target market.

It might sound like the kind of moan you would expect someone with an interest in design to come out with but it’s really not difficult to organise information in a logical and readable way and it can really make a difference in how effectively you put your message across. It just takes a few moments to think about the key points you’re trying to make, what’s important and what’s less important. And you don’t need to have any design skill at all. The massive hoo-ha at the Oscars wouldn’t have happened if someone paid a little bit more attention…