The whole point of creating an awesome social media design is to get through the clutter and convey the message to your audience in the easiest possible way.
And without good knowledge of “Typography”, it’s hard to stand out on social media, because it plays a crucial role in making the creative look awesome, attractive, professional, more adjectives, etc.
But what is typography in the first place? Why should we care for it?
It is the art of arranging letters and text in a way that makes the copy legible, clear, and visually appealing to the reader. Not me, Wikipedia says that.
The simple definition for typography that I can give you is: “appearance of the text“. And it can be seen everywhere.
So, the goal here, in terms of the social media point of view is to make the creative copy look visually appealing and convey the message easily.
The concepts that I’ll be covering in this article include:
- How to choose the right fonts for your social media designs.
- Difference between Serif, Sans Serif, Script, and, Display fonts & when to use them.
- How to pair fonts in social media designs.
- Understanding the concepts of leading and tracking.
- Where are how to use negative space.
- How to align and distribute content.
- How to structure a hierarchy.
- Understanding the concept of Typographical contrast.
And I’ve put out 5 important tips to master typography and make your social media designs look awesome. Let’s not waste “the best asset that a human being has ever got” and dive in.
1. Choose fonts the right way
You need to choose a font for your text (creative copy aka the message) in such a way that it reflects your brand identity.
Basically, you need to consider what type of brand you are designing the creative for. Look at the image below and see how the message was delivered in different styles in each case:
But before choosing a font, you need to have a clear understanding of what the basic font categories are and what do they represent.
Serif: Safety, History, Tradition, Respect.
Sans Serif: Clean, Clear, Minimal, Friendly.
Script: Feminism, Elegance, Personal, Unique.
Display: Big, bold, and quirky fonts that are mostly used for headings. Best for small amounts of text.
Every font has a personality and a certain message it conveys. Just consider the purpose of the font in the design.
Is it to show feminism? To attract viewers? Is the font needed for body text? Ask yourself these kinds of questions when deciding what font to use.
Think about the way a font appears on the design and if it fits the design style of the whole creative and conveys the message clearly, then that’s the font you are looking for.
In my case(Personal Branding – Instagram), I use sans-serif font: Aku & Kamu (for headings – Bold) as the main font. And I pair that with another quality sans-serif font with a strong geometric type “Circular Std” (body text, subtle, minimal) in most of my designs.
But let’s find out some better ways to pair fonts in the next section.
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2. Pair fonts like a pro!
Pairing fonts may feel like a “huh!” thing. But it doesn’t have to be that way. There are some rules that might help you choose the perfect font pairs.
–> Pair a serif and a sans serif font. Using a serif font for heading and a sans-serif font for the body content. Or vice versa.
–> Pair a bold font with a light weight font.
–> If you are struggling to find fonts that complement each other, pair fonts within the same family with different weights. And skip a weight when choosing fonts from the same family to create a typographical contrast in the design. Gotham Black & Gotham Regular.
–> Pair a decorative font with simple font. In the image below, I paired Lobster(script font) with Gotham Light.
Basically, the simple formula here is opposites work well in font pairing. Simple with bold, serif with sans serif, etc.
And one more question you might get is how my fonts you should use in a social media creative. The correct answer is: limit the font usage to 2. If you want to or need to use more than that, use a different style (Italic), size (text size), and weights(regular, medium) of the same fonts. And how to use these variations? We are gonna talk about them in the 5th point.
Here are some Instagram post designs with good font pairings.
3. Play With Leading And Tracking
Tweak the values of the leading and tracking until you get a visually pleasing result. But, before that let’s see what these terms mean and how they affect the designs.
Leading refers to the vertical space between lines and Tracking refers to the uniform space between all letters.
And all you have to do is tweak the numbers (as shown in the image above) till you get the end result that looks visually appealing.
You can adjust these numbers in the character panel in Photoshop. If you don’t see the panel in the sidebar, go to Window (top menu) and click on “Character”.
And this is how you can apply these typography concepts in your social media designs:
There is another term called Kerning which refers to the space between individual letters. But this option didn’t help me much in terms of putting text on social media posts. If you want to know more about Kerning, you can refer to this article.
4. Master Alignment, Distribution & Negative Space
Ok, let’s start with negative space. It’s the part or area of a creative where you see nothing but a color. The whole point of using negative space is to drive the viewer’s focus to the positive space where we will be placing the main text/image to drive focus to it.
Important Tip: Don’t place any design elements along with the corners of the canvas and always align all the elements to one axis (or one side).
To explain the concept of about alignment and distribution in a social media post, have a look at this one:
Look at how the text is aligned to the left perfectly (From heading – “Unified Identity” to the text below the images, every piece of written content is aligned to the left side). And all the text elements or distributed equally, which gave a professional look to the design. Maybe that’s the reason why I’ve found this one on Linkedin.
Important Tip: When in doubt, align the text to the left side, leaving some space. People read from left to right, top to bottom.
5. Structure A Hierarchy & Create Typographical Contrast
Hierarchy is the arrangement of text in a design based on the importance of what the viewers should see first. In general, any design has 3 levels of textual hierarchy. A heading, subheading, and body text.
The number ‘3’ is not a rule. There can only be 2 (minimal designs – Heading, Body Text) or more than 3 in social media designs. It depends.
But the whole point of creating the hierarchy is to direct the viewers to what we want them to read first. We write an effective copy on the creative to grab attention.
But what if the viewer didn’t even notice that in the first place. So, we create a hierarchy to make the viewers notice what we want them to notice first. So, in that way, you can control what they will read first.
Ok, but how can I make the creative copy and all the other text on the creative stand out? Let’s talk about contrast then.
The whole point of creating contrast in designs is to show a big difference between the elements which in turn creates visual interest. Why do we use white text on a black background or vice versa? To create contrast, right? To make the white pop well on a black background.
And typographical contrast can be achieved by varying size, shape(or style), weight, color, and, spacing.
There is no rule that you should be using only one of them or all of them at a time. It depends on how much text you are putting in the design. Have a look at this example:
Points to notice in the above image:
- Size: the size of each title is different.
- Style: There is a rectangle (shape) behind the “Title 2”
- Color: The rectangle color and the “Title” color is the same.
- Weight: The font used for “Main Title” is Gotham Black and the font used for “Title 2” and “Title 3” is Gotham Book.
- Spacing: “Title 2” and “Main Title” are closer than “Title 3” and “Main Title”.
And here are some social media designs that have good typographical contrasts:
- The goal is to make the creative copy stand out. Start with choosing the rights fonts and create better typographical contrasts.
- Make sure whatever font you choose, matches the brand value (Feminism, Bold, etc).
- Scale the text equally on all sides. Never stretch text in one direction. In photoshop, you can do that without holding shift while transforming (CTRL or CMD + T).
- Avoid font strokes and insane drop shadows. It’s ok to add a bit of shadow when needed, especially when the text is placed on very bright backgrounds, but keep it subtle.
- You don’t need to add all the variations (size, color, shape, etc) to create a contrast in Text.
- While opposites pair well, It’s ok (sometimes) to pair fonts from the same category as well.
It’s a bit hard to master Typography. But I think I’ve put out enough tips and methods that if you follow them can make your designs breathe and look amazing. Let me know in the comments if you’ve got any typography tips for me, that I’ve missed out on.