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5 Typography Rules to Avoid Ugly Design

Every designer goes through a novice phase when starting out. You can gradually improve your skills, but in the meantime, there are some essential typography rules you must know to avoid ugly design. I'll briefly introduce these typography rules to help you out.


1. Avoid Using All Caps in Handwritten Fonts

If you want to use handwritten fonts, especially formal, elegant script fonts, please do not use them in all caps. These fonts are already ornate, and using all caps will make them hard to read.

2. Don’t Use Straight Quotes

Avoid using straight quotes (""). If you want to quote someone, use curly quotes (“”). 

If you want to emphasize unfamiliar foreign words or key terms, use italics. Additionally, do not confuse straight quotes with prime symbols (′ ″) used for feet and inches, or with single quotes (‘’) used in spelling.


3. Use Italics Effectively

It's best to have a matching italic set for your body text font. When typesetting large volumes of text, such as in books, use italics in the following situations instead of overusing quotation marks:

  1. Names of people and places when they first appear
  2. Emphasizing sentences or words
  3. Foreign words not yet accepted as common terms
  4. Titles of books, plays, etc.

4. Hyphenate Long Words at Line Breaks

When typesetting body text, long words should be hyphenated at the end of a line. If you don't hyphenate, using justified alignment will result in inconsistent line density, and left-aligned or right-aligned text will have varying line lengths.

Note: When hyphenating words, it's best to break them at syllable boundaries. If a word already contains hyphens, like "up-to-date," break it at the existing hyphen.


5. Are You Aware of the fi Ligature?

In English typesetting, when the letters "f" and "i" are together, they can create an unsightly black spot. The same goes for "f" and "l." In these cases, you should use the "fi" ligature.

You can input the "fi" ligature directly using the Unicode character code. On a Mac, press Option, then "f" and "i" or "f" and "l". On Windows, you can search for "charmap" and find the "fi" character in the character map. Adobe Illustrator and InDesign can automatically replace "fi" with the ligature, but we won't go into detail on that here.

Try it out to see if your font supports the "fi" ligature.



The quality of a design often hinges on the details. Paying attention to typographic details like case usage, punctuation norms, and consistent spacing will enhance your designs. Following these typography rules will undoubtedly make your designs more appealing, and your dedication to design will impress others. Keep up the good work!

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