By Jennifer Outcelt, RISQ Consulting Account Specialist
I love hierarchy, don’t you? It’s just so much nicer when you can easily separate the important from the masses. Clear leaders guiding your mind is the only way to maintain order. Without hierarchy countless systems would devolve into chaos… What’s that? You think I have extreme political views? Oh wow! I’m not talking politics! No, no, no, no, no. I’m talking about Typographical Hierarchy, silly! You know, the visual hierarchy you see in written content that helps your mind separate titles, from headings, from subheadings, from main body text.
Gosh, I’m so embarrassed for causing that confusion. Let me make it up to you by explaining a bit more about what typographical hierarchy is.
You may have noticed the structure of this post changed a bit there. I hope you weren’t too disoriented. In fact, you were probably finally oriented! BOOM! You my friend have been typographically hierarchized. First, you saw big, bold, blue text that told you exactly what the rest of the text was about. Then, you saw smaller, light-blue text that narrowed down the focus of the rest of the text. Finally, you saw the actual text. The meat of it. And now you’ve learned something.
In all likelihood you’re already familiar with this text structure. You see it every day. It shows up in magazines, websites, advertisements, newspapers, and pretty much any industry with the slightest graphic design budget. Maybe you recognize it but can’t put your finger on why it’s so effective. Sure, I could have buried that definition inside a big paragraph for you, but how would your eyes have known where to look for a definition? This structure is even more helpful when you have a variety of subjects appearing on the same page. In an online retail situation, the product thumbnail serves as the title, the product description as the heading, and the price as the subheading (or heading if you’re as budget driven as me). Which of these two contact lists would you rather sift through?
I’d put money down you prefer the one on the right. Why? Because it’s easy to find exactly what you want and we like being lazy. Good typographical hierarchy works hard so your brain doesn’t have to. That’s what I call a good tool.
If you want to learn more about typographical hierarchy from someone much smarter than I am, then check out this site about the book Thinking with Type. If it piques your interest, then I recommend reading the whole book. It’s a truly fascinating read for those who like to look behind the green curtain. I just love typographical hierarchy, don’t you?