Text type is more common than any other. Text makes up the acres of gray in books, magazines, repots and hundreds of other documents. When reading is the primary goal, its the designer’s job to ensure that the text is smooth, flowing and pleasant to read. The hallmarks of good text type are legibility and readability.
Legibility refers to clarity, its how readily one letter can be distinguished from all others.
Readability refers to how well letters interact to compose words, sentences and paragraphs.
When evaluating the choices, the operative word is medium.
1. Pick a typeface with similar character widths:
For smoother appearance, an alphabet’s characters should have similar widths. Reading has a natural rhythm; an alphabet such as Futura with widely varying character widths disrupts it.
2. Medium height-to-width ratio:
We identify letters by their physical characteristics-stems, bars, loops, curves and so on; the clearer they are the more legible the letter. As letters are compressed, these features get distorted-diagonal strokes, for example, become quite vertical-and so are harder to identify.
3. Medium x-height:
The x-height of a typestyle is the height of its lowercase characters. The larger the x-height, the denser the type will appear. You want medium; unusually tall or short x-heights are better suited for specialty projects.
4. Look for small variations in stroke weight:
The best text faces have stroke weights that vary somewhat, which make converging lines that help the eye flow smoothly. But avoid extremes. Modern styles vary too much, at high resolution their beautiful, super thin strokes disappear in a dazzle. Sleek geometric styles vary little or not at all, so are too uniform.
5. Watch out for mirrors:
Geometric typestyles are so uniform that their letters are often mirror images. For text, this is not idea- the more distinct each letter is, the more legible whole words will be. Look for typestyles that don’t mirror.
6. Avoid overlarge counters:
Counters are the enclosed spaces inside letters. Avoid typestyles whose counters are very large in relation to the stroke weight. In the case of Avant Garde, note how much greater the space inside the letters is than the space outside!
7. Avoid quirkiness:
Typographic sprites are fun to look at and great for heads, but in text they wear out their welcome fast.