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The Beginners Guide to Web Typography

Typography is defined as the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. This is especially important on the web, where considerations like readability and accessibility are of the utmost importance.


Ensuring your content can be comfortably read on a myriad of different devices will lower your bounce rate, keep visitors engaged and hopefully convince them to buy something. This is a quick guide to choosing an appropriate font, ensuring maximum device compatibility and formatting your text for optimum readability.

Size – Bigger is Better

Setting a larger font size makes your text more readable and prevents readers from skimming your content. Try to stick to around 12-16px for body text and never use anything below 10px. Bigger is better is a good general rule. This text is set at 15px.

Font – Clean, Readable & Compatible

Please use anything other than Comic Sans or Papyrus. I personally prefer to use sans-serif fonts such as Segoe UI, Lucida Grande and Helvetica. If you choose a font that isn’t available on all operating systems, use Google Fonts or create a failsafe font stack.

Microsoft's 'Segoe' font family is wonderful, but it only renders on Windows.
Microsoft’s ‘Segoe’ font family is wonderful, but it only renders on Windows.

Formatting – Avoid Widows & Orphans

A widow is a line of text that sits at the beginning of the following page, separated from the rest of the paragraph. An orphan is a word or short line that appears by itself at the end of a paragraph. These are bad, and should be avoidable when possible.

In this graphic; the word 'design' is an orphan
In this graphic; the word ‘design’ is an orphan

Avoid Chunks of Text

People don’t like reading huge blocks of text on a web page. Heck, I rarely read a tweet all the way through. It’s important to keep your paragraphs short and to the point.

As my high school English teacher would say: Think about how much you can remove from a sentence, not how much you can put in.

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