Online Typography Do’s and Don’ts
Before “word processing” we “typed” text in which every letter and punctuation mark occupied the same amount of space. To make reading our typed manuscripts easier, people were taught a few habits that, if used in a word processor or preparing text for use on line, make the text look goofy. Such habits include but are not limited to:
Including 2 spaces after a period at the end of a sentence … Get in the habit of not doing this when you are using a proportional font (and you almost always use a proportional font these days – especially on the web).
Using “tabs” to indent … For the web, don’t indent the first line of text in paragraphs. If such indentation is desired for a certain kind of page or post it will be programmed to happen automatically.
Using a lowercase “L” as the number “1” … I bet you haven’t heard of this one – unless you’re old enough to have typed on a portable manual typewriter (to see one, visit my office in the Visitors Center).
Breaking a word at the end of a line with a hyphen between syllables
One never knows where a visitor’s line breaks are going to occur (browser size, screen size, text magnification … all sorts of variables are in the mix). Therefore, never try to hyphenate a word in text prepared for online use.
Random font selecting… You may have become accustomed to using the wide array of fonts available to you in your word processor, but such choices won’t apply for online text. Fonts are a part of site design and programming and the only choices available to you in the WordPress visual editor — besides “bold,” “Italic” and “underline” — are under the “Format” dropdown menu. Among the choices there that you will use often are Headings 2 and 3 out of 6. In berea.edu, Heading 2 is used for subtitles and Heading 3 for sub-subtitles. Though it’s possible, please don’t try to get around font limitations by turning text into a graphic (e.g. using Photoshop or other image-editing software). So-called “infographics” break accessibility rules with which we try to comply.
Using full paragraph “justification” (straight left AND right edges)… Don’t do it. It is an invitation to bizarre and unpredictable consequences.
If you have more typographical advice for the web content manager community, please contribute as a comment to this post.