who is typography for?
Readers, not writers
Typography is for the benefit of the reader, not the writer.
Other kinds of professional writers—say, novelists and journalists—don’t have to worry about typography. They can pass their work to professional designers who optimize the typography for the intended audience.
But you can’t. You have to handle your own typography. So you must also negotiate the conflict of interest between your perspective as a writer and that of your future reader.
In fact, your reader is quite different from you:
|Interest in topic||High||Low|
|Persuadable by other opinions||No||Yes|
|Cares about making your client happy||Yes||No|
Legal writers, unfortunately, often imagine that the comparison looks like this:
|Attention span||Long||Whatever it takes|
|Interest in topic||High||Boundless|
|Persuadable by other opinions||No||Barely|
|Cares about making your client happy||Yes||Of course|
The only reader who might match that description is your mother.
Typography has to be oriented to actual readers, not idealized ones. Writers often get attached to idealized readers because they’re easier to please. Of course—they don’t exist. Don’t fall into that trap. Set aside the wishful thinking and try to see your document from your reader’s perspective. You won’t get it perfectly right. But a rough approximation is better than none.