These six Typography Tips will instantly make your documents look better.

These six Typography Tips will instantly make your documents look better.

Business moves fast. You don’t always have the time or budget to have a document professionally typeset. But here are a few simple things you can easily do to make your documents look better.

Only leave one space after a period. (Two spaces are a vestige of the typewriter age.) All professional typesetters agree on this. And if you don’t believe us, ask the editors at Slate. As an online article of theirs unequivably states, “Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.” So there.

The line space between paragraphs must be greater than the line space inside the paragraphs. Take a look at how this blog post is laid out. See how the space between the paragraphs is larger than the spaces between the individual lines of copy? That’s to help break up the copy and to keep your document from becoming an intimidating wall of type.

Bulletpoint items require two visual cues to separate each point. One cue is the round “bullet” symbol. But a second cue is just as important for separating one thought from the next. That second cue is the line space between each stated point; it should be larger than any line space in the bulletpoint thought itself. This clearly separates each individual thought from the next. In other words, if you were to remove the round bullet symbols, proper line spacing would still make it obvious where each thought begins and ends.

Avoid leaving a line with just a single word on it. This is called creating a “widow.” When an entire sentence won’t fit on a line, the last word is pushed to the next line below. That single word sitting by itself looks “lost” visually. Give it a friend by pushing the preceding word to the next line as well.

Don’t leave “orphans” either. Like widows, orphans are single words left by themselves. An orphan is a word sitting alone at the top of a column of type because it wouldn’t fit at the bottom of the preceding column. The best solution is to shorten the copy to make it fit. A less desirable (but acceptable) solution is break the last line in the first column so two or more words appear at the top of the next.

Hyphenated word breaks should be the rare exception, not the rule. A hyphen divides a word at the end of a line when the word can’t quite fit. Used occasionally, this is okay. But a constant reliance on hyphenated word breaks detracts from the copy’s appearance, particularly if hyphens appear on two consecutive lines. We wouldn’t recommend spending an hour rewriting simply to avoid a word break, but it’s best to keep those hyphenated words to an absolute minimum.