thinking with type
letter grid tools for teachers

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TEXT TOPICS: Kerning | Tracking | Line spacing | Alignment | Stacked type | Hierarchy
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More on HIERARCHY: Emphasis within a block of text



A typographic hierarchy expresses an organizational system for content, emphasizing some data and diminishing others. A hierarchy helps readers scan a text, knowing where to enter and exit and how to pick and choose among its offerings. Each level of the hierarchy should be signaled by one or more cues, applied consistently across a body of text. A cue can be spatial (indent, line spacing, placement on page) or graphic (size, style, color of typeface). Infinite variations are possible.


Writers are generally trained to avoid redundancy, as in the expressions “future plans” or “past history.” In typography, some redundancy is acceptable, even recommended. For example, paragraphs are traditionally marked with a line break and an indent, a redundancy that has proven quite practical, as each signal provides backup for the other. To create an elegant economy of signals, try using no more than three cues for each level or break in a document.