Both typography and page design in general “strongly affect how people react to a document,” according to Julia Barrick Douglas of Fortis College. Firstly, typography, the layout and setting of type on a printed page, is important because it can help to convey an essential idea, stimulate a certain feeling or emotion, or simply “[command] the attention of your desired audience.” Typography is important for legibility reasons—meaning, the audience must be able to read the print without “eye fatigue” or “eye strain”—but also for much more artistic reasons. Different fonts will match the content or purpose of different stories better than others. When a font or style matches a story, the effect is pleasing. Certain fonts and styling can also “influence” one’s readers, though they may not realize it.
Typeface, font size, line length, line, character, and column spacing, indents, subheads, and margins are the particulars of typography (Itkonen). Generally speaking, there are two common typeface groups: Sans Serif and Serif. This is because there is not a lot of thickness variation in their characters, keeping the text from appearing “blurred.” “Unusual shapes” or those not distinguishable enough from each other are difficult to read. Font size is most easily read when it is between 9 and 12 points. 55 to 60 characters per line is commonly accepted as a good line length—lines shorter than this would force the reader’s eyes to jump to a new line too often. The same idea applies to spacing between lines. Spacing, in general, must be wide enough to clearly separate words or columns, and narrow enough not to confuse readers and waste space. Most importantly, spacing must always be consistent. “Readability” and “visual appearance” are crucial. Indents, which are used solely to signify a new paragraph, should be between 3.5 and 5 millimeters. Subheads must “be clearly distinguished from the body text, but they shouldn’t be excessively highlighted either.” Margins, like spacing, must not be too wide or too narrow. Without a doubt, typography is quite important to the appearance of a printed page.
The overall design of a page is equally important. This includes every element on the page (body copy, headlines, decks, infographics, bylines, liftout quotes, captions, etc.) and how they are positioned and arranged. The “cover image” of a magazine or newspaper is highly significant—it grabs the reader’s attention and determines whether or not he or she will be interested enough to open it (incredibleart.org). The cover may often indicate whether a publication will be successful or unsuccessful.
A headline, for example, is the “most important textual element on a page” (magazinedesigning.com). It should be larger than any other textual element and near the top of the page so that a reader’s eyes are drawn to it. Different column widths should be used to give the body copy character and variety and to prevent the readers from losing their place or growing bored. Images, liftout quotes, infographics, or logos break up the body copy, make it interesting, and emphasize an especially good part of a story.
According to the Illinois Valley Community College, good page design (and typography as well) should smoothly communicate information, allow readers to easily find that information, and highlight the most valuable content. The visual element of a publication is just as important as the content itself.
Article from Fortis College website
Itkonen, Markus: “Typography and Readability”—PDF document from The Finnish Centre for Easy to Read
Incredible Art Department webpage
Magazine Designing webpage
Illinois Valley Community College PDF