why typography matters

A recreation of thebutterfly ballot” from Palm Beach County, Florida, and a butterfly-free redesign, by William Lid­well, Kritina Holden, and Jill But­ler, from their book Uni­ver­sal Prin­ci­ples of De­sign. (See bibliography.)

You are already a typog­ra­pher. You may be a reluc­tant typog­ra­pher. You may be an unskilled typog­ra­pher. But every time you’ve put words on a printed page, you’ve made typog­ra­phy hap­pen. So you are a typog­ra­pher.

This book is about mak­ing you a bet­ter typog­ra­pher. And if you’re won­der­ingwhat’s in it for me?”, start with this chap­ter.

Typog­ra­phy isn’t just the frost­ing on the cup­cake that is your text. Typog­ra­phy has con­se­quences. Just ask the per­son who was respon­si­ble for the bal­lot used in Palm Beach County, Florida, for the 2000 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

The typog­ra­phy of the infa­mousbut­ter­fly bal­lot” wasn’t ran­dom. Like every ter­ri­ble and mis­guided project through­out his­tory, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Some­one con­sid­ered a num­ber of typo­graphic options and approved that one.

Typog­ra­phy helps you engage read­ers, per­suade them, and ulti­mately spur them to action. The more you appre­ci­ate what typog­ra­phy can do, the bet­ter your typog­ra­phy will be.

And you can ensure that you never turn your own work into the equiv­a­lent of a but­ter­fly bal­lot.