Jill Bell's Simple Design Tips
by Jill Bell
Written as a handout to accompany a lecture/demo of Fontographer
for the local Mac User Group (ie: an audience of computer folk, not
graphic designers).September, 1997
1. Organize your material into levels of importance. Make
sure the information is logical, clear and assessable.
2. Edit. Eliminate everything that is fluff. Make sure you
have the journalistic essentials of five W's and one H: who, what,
where, when, why and how (if appropriate).
3. Choose your typefaces. Decide what typefaces reflect the
subject matter the best. Consider who your reader/audience is. Decide
what will be used as headlines, sub-heads, and the body copy. Check
to see if there are any special characters you need in your font.
4. It's much easier to mix a serif font and a sans serif font
than it is to mix two serif fonts or two sans serif fonts.
Simplest method for a good, cohesive look: choose an extended font
family with italics and different weights and stay with it.
5. Serif fonts are generally better for text, sans serif for
headings and titles. Serif fonts tend to be more readable, sans
serif more legible (why they are also used more in signs).
6. Keep line length short for improved readability. Flush
left makes the type look and read better if the design allows. 10-12
point type is generally the easiest, quickest read.
7. Don't use all caps for text. It's just not very readable
and you'll loose your audience.
8. Use pictures or graphics. The adages say it all: "A
picture is worth a thousand words" and "variety is the spice of
9. Less is more. Don't get carried away and try to put
everything in. One picture may be better than five. White space is
good and adds clarity and sophistication.
10. For print: your text and logo will probably look better
smaller than you think it should be.
11. For online: your text will probably look better bigger
than you think it should be. Separate out long pages of text onto
their own page or create a PDF: your average internet surfer doesn't
want to wade through a lot of text, and those who do want to read
articles want to be able to print the text out with one printing
12. Jill's surefire rule of 3: Limit yourself to three
colors (background counts as one), three typefaces (two should be in
the same font family), and three sizes of type. One color, typeface
and size of type should occupy 2/3 of the piece, the second element
2/3 of the remaining third, and the remaining 1/9th should be the
accent color, the headline type and size (or footnote size and type).
13. Jill's primary colors: black, white and red.
14. Proofread. Proofread again. Have someone else
proofread it. Proofread it again.
15. Break all the rules.