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Elementary layout:

DTP gives everyone the power to create great-looking documents. But it also gives the untrained amateur the power to create some awful affronts to good design too. Just take a look at some of the business cards and letterheads you see in everyday life for evidence of this. But good design is not as elusive as you might fear. Just follow a few simple rules and whatever you produce will be good, if not brilliant design.

1. Don’t get carried away! Now you have a shiny new Mac with a powerful new DTP package and a whole host of fonts, don’t feel that you have to use all this power on every document you create. Nine times out of ten, good design is simple design, and that one other time, if it isn’t simple and it is good, you can bet that it was created by one hell of a talented designer.

Limit the number of fonts you use. Choose fonts which are appropriate to the subject matter, and use them with care. One of the most common mistake’s of poor designers is to use outlines, underlines, bolds and italics too frequently. Read what you have designed as if you were speaking it. Big bold type is the equivalent of shouting something out loud. Italics are the same as giving it an earnest vocal stress, and using an underline on outline text is the same as being hideously patronising as you speak. If you wouldn’t talk like that, why design like it?
Simplicity is the key rule to quality design. Enthusiasm is good, but don’t get carried away with too many fonts and colours.

2. Make it easy to read.

The readability of a piece of text is controlled by several factors, all of which are related fo one another. Change one, and you can sometimes adjust the others to compensate. Get them all wrong and the chances are that people won’t bother reading what it is you are trying to convey to them – the ultimate result of bad design. Choose a readable font. Simple serif fonts like Baskerville, Times and Palatino are best, but sans serif fonts like Helvetica or Futura Book can create a more modern look. Be aware of the size you use your text – for books and magazines, between 8 and 12 point is best for body copy, but if you are designing a poster, think about the likely viewing distance.
The length of a line of text can have a considerable effect on how readable it is. If the line is too long, readers may find themselves losing the start of the next line because they have to scan back too far. If the lines are too short, the flow of the text will be hindered by frequent line breaks.

A good guide for the length (or measure) of a line body text is between 40 and 65 letters. But it all depends on the leading. Leading is the traditional term for the space between two lines of text. Ideally it should be between 20% and 30% of the text size, so 8 point text would be fine on 10 or 11 point leading. But if you wish to use a longer measure than the guideline above, you can increase the leading to help readers find the start of the next line.
If you are attempting to convey information, make it easy to read. Choice of font, length of your text lines and line spaeing all play an inter-related role in readability.

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