Following Typographic Rules On The Web

So far, using HTML text on the web doesn’t allow the kind of fine tuning that can be done in page layout programs used for brochures and other print design. However, on one occasion, DDA designed a website for a leading Philadelphia printing company, and the president of the company expected that the HTML text conform as much as humanely possible to typographic rules.

I was delighted, because it was satisfying to have a client notice all of the professional touches we apply when putting text on a page, things that normally go unnoticed by an untrained eye. He wanted the content and leading to be consistent, just-so spaces after titles and between paragraphs, aesthetically pleasing indents, correct use of m-spaces where appropriate, and so on. I was able to accomplish this through use of CSS styles, proving that there is still a great deal of control that can be exerted over how HTML text appears on the web.

We always use HTML text instead of images for web content, because the content is what drives search engine optimization. Some of the most difficult challenges of trying to control how text looks on a web page are, that text flows differently in various browsers, so it is more difficult to control whether there will be widows or orphans, to keep leading consistent when using registered trademarks, superscripts, and subscripts, and making sure that italicized text looks smooth and easily readable in all browsers, instead of jagged. Luckily, aesthetics don’t have to be sacrificed much to achieve functionality on the web.

To see an example of the website mentioned above, please visit