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My notes on "Web Typography"

I bought Richard Rutter’s book Web Typography quite a while ago, as part of the Kickstarter campaign. I’ve had the paperback on my shelf for a while, but finally got around to reading it.

I found some new things, some excellent reminders of old things, and confirmations of things I thought were good ideas. Here’s some stuff that stood out for me.

  • Using rems for global sizing (pages) and ems for local sizing (components). I use em almost by reflex and have shied away from rems for a while. I’m going to fix that.
  • While it can be fun to set margins and paddings and use media queries and things to get a good measure (line length), sometimes just setting a max-width will do.
  • The importance of using a typographic scale, especially one that’s relevant. This site uses an off-the-shelf scale. I plan to change that.
  • I’ve not really used min-height media queries, but they’re useful for adjusting (or not adjusting) font-size. A min-height of about half the min-width is a good guideline, given the widescreen proportions of many modern screens.
  • Long strings of CAPS or numbers can sometimes do with about 0.05em or 5% of letter-spacing.
  • One thing that has stuck with me is a reminder that vertical-rhythm is not the same as a baseline grid. A baseline grid can be tricky to do on the web, but vertical rhythm is not. Having a system for using the multiples of line-height to space things properly is high up my To Do list.
  • Choose odd over even grid systems. You’ll get consistency, but not monotony.
  • A good set of characters for checking legibility is I1l0Oij (Eye one ell zero Oh eye jay). How do they look for you?
  • Look for similar structure and form when comparing and combining typefaces: x-height; cap heights; ascenders; descenders; similar eaTgfM and GWy; contrast, colour, proporation; designer or foundry.

I also made a few immediate changes to the CSS of

  • added a bunch of hypenation (hyphens: auto; hyphenate-limit-lines: 2; hyphenate-limit-chars: 6 3 2; hyphenate-limit-zone: 8%; hyphenate-limit-last: always)
  • adjusted blockquote size to slightly smaller that body text, with no left margin;
  • adjusted the margins around uls and ols for better alignment.

If you’ve read Web Typography, what were your take-aways?