letterhead

Divide into foreground and background

Not every­thing in a page lay­out is equally impor­tant. As I men­tioned in maxims of page layout, I think of doc­u­ments as hav­ing a fore­ground, con­tain­ing the most impor­tant ele­ments, and a back­ground, con­tain­ing every­thing else. Typog­ra­phy com­mu­ni­cates this dis­tinc­tion to the reader visu­ally.

Pic­ture a sheet of let­ter­head. What’s in the fore­ground? If you saidthe address block,” then I’m guess­ing you pic­tured a blank sheet of let­ter­head. But let­ter­head is never used blank. So more accu­rately, the fore­ground con­tains the text of the let­ter. The back­ground con­tains the address block.

Yet law­yer let­ter­head often suf­fers from two prob­lems. First, the address block (the back­ground) dom­i­nates the page, upstag­ing the text of the let­ter (the fore­ground). Sec­ond, the fore­ground and back­ground don’t relate to each other visu­ally.

before
after
after (alter­nate)