Contrasting Type

Simple technique can help improve design

William Love, Newspaper Adviser

Contrast in type weight and size is such a simple way to bring organization to a design. It is something that I start with on the first day and stress for the rest of the semester to the journalism students in my design classes.

The other day I came across a simple example while reading the book The Non-Designer’s Design Book you can use with your students to demonstrate the importance contrast in type plays in good design.

In this case, the examples presented by the book’s author, Robin Williams, focused on the design principle Proximity. But Williams’ lesson provides students the opportunity to see firsthand the important role contrasting the weight and size of type plays in successful design.



In this case, I asked the students to give me the good and bad qualities of the design above. As you can probably guess, the students didn’t have a lot of good feedback and most admitted they wouldn’t read it.


Meanwhile, after showing them the second example, hands shot up all over the room as I asked them the good and bad qualities. Most of the comments dealt with organization and how the contrast made it much easier to read than the first example. Some were amazed that the second example has the same amount of content (words) as the first.

In many cases, design is not a priority in the journalism classroom. But this simple lesson might help your staff make their publication easier to read.