Tips 3

Typographical rules (English)



Full stop/period 

The point is to mark the end of a sentence.


Concerning numbers between groups of three digits, don’t put a full stop, but a non-breaking space:

Ex: 4 500 000.


General rule: no space before the full stop and space after.


Comma (,)

The comma indicates a short pause and serves to separate the parts of a sentence.

Don’t place a comma between a subject and a verb.

Don’t not place a comma before a bracket, parenthesis, hyphen, but after.

We usually place a comma before “etc.. .


General rule: no space before and space after.


Semicolon (;)

The semicolon is usually placed between two independent proposals and indicates a link with the preceding sentence:


General rule: non-breaking space before the semicolon and space after the semicolon.


Colon (:)

The colon announce a list or a quotation.

Before a quotation: they are followed by French quotes.


General rule: non-breaking space before and space after the colon. No capital after.


Question mark (?)

The question mark is placed at the end of an interrogative sentence.


General rule: non-breaking space before the question mark and space after.


Exclamation mark (!)

The exclamation point is placed at the end of exclamatory sentence or end of an interjection


General rule: non-breaking space before the exclamation mark and space after.


Ellipsis (...)

The dots are always three in number, and mark a hesitation, a thought not expressed or are placed following a list too long.


General rule: no space before the dot and space after.


Brackets  ()

Parentheses are used to isolate a sentence in a passage relating to a point, to detail or supporting a fact.


General rule: the space before and space after parentheses, but no space inside.


Dash (--)

The dash is used to mark the change of interlocutor in a dialogue, detail an observation within a sentence (it looks much better than the parentheses), or to submit a list.


General rule: non-breaking space after. If within a phrase, breaking space before, space after.


Asterisk (*)

This symbol indicates a reference to be developed end of the article.


General rule: no space between the asterisk and the word that precedes it, but after breaking space. (Example: Note * or: * This refers to our article ...)



It is often seen written: etc. ... It is a mistake. One point will be fine.


Don't use too many typefaces

Consistency throughout a document or website is helpful. It brings unity and one identity. It also makes it clean, tidy and just basically not messy. A good rule to follow then is to not use more than 3 different typefaces in one document.



It is always important in typography to pay close attention to the hierarchy of the page. The most basic thing is to keep the headline at the top of the page in a larger size. It’s just a case of looking at the page and asking other people what they read first. As a designer we should be thinking about communication constantly. This is our primary focus.


Font size

Use no more than 4 font sizes in a document or website. Preferably 3. Again this is a case of consistency.

Too many copy sizes make a document disjointed. 3 also allow enough variation to emphasize certain text and categorize text together. For example, you have one size for a heading, one for an introduction, one for body text and one for a pullout quote or something else. This will be consistent across the whole


8-10pt for body copy

Always keep body point between these sizes. It looks neat and tidy and allows headings.

Definitely do not go over 12pt.



Leading is essentially the vertical space between the lines of type. Leading is something that so many designers forget about, it’s easy just to stick with the auto settings. This can make or break a document. Pay close attention to your leading. Keep your leading tight, but without ever overlapping. Usually we will go for a little above the font size, slightly below the auto setting. This works especially well with Helvetica like typefaces. Either way, there should not be too much space, and the letters should not overlap at all !



Kerning is the spacing between letters. Again, like leading this seems like an obvious one, but still needs careful attention. Consider if your typeface generally needs spacing out more, or if it looks better with tighter kerning. Helvetica and Futura have quite a bit of space between letters on the normal setting. Also it is worth taking special care with specific characters. Again, no characters should overlap.


Accent or emphasize

This can help bring out key words and also break up large sections of text. Large chunks of copy tend to be quite scary, and ideally people like to skim. A subtle emphasis can bring out key words. A different color, slightly darker perhaps or a slightly bolder version of the font are nice techniques.


Do not over emphasize

Emphasis in a body of text should be kept simple and elegant. We either use bold, italic or underlined.

Too much, just makes a page look messy.


Lines not too long or short

Line length is also important. It helps legibility and prevents your eye from slipping up or down a line in a large body of text. Use columns in a page to make this structured and easy. Your page will be neater and more legible.


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