Top 5 tips for text design

The Beginner guide for text layout and print design

I see you there. Sitting deflated and red-eyed, staring at your computer screen and the piles of text before you. The words ‘What the hell am I doing, I need a glass of wine” cross your lips a few times. You have no idea where to start. If only your copy will design itself.

text design formatting icon

I know it is 2 am but do not fear, I present to you my 5 top tips for text layout & design. It won’t stop you from drinking that glass of wine, but it will make your next your next long copy project shine with the formatting it deserves!


Keep to a sans-serif* font for easy readability. Avenir is my go-to, but if you only have stock standard fonts, use something basic like Arial or Open Sans.

*The term ‘Serif’ can be applied to any font that has a small decorative line added as an embellishment to the basic form of a character. The term ‘Sans-serif’ can be applied to any font that is missing the additional embellishment.


Text at 10pt is standard for body copy. I wouldn’t go any smaller than 8pt for large bodies of text. MS Word and other programs default to 12 points, but unless you are formatting for the visually challenged, 10pt text is the norm.


Small amounts of white text over a coloured background are okay headings & photo captions. But please DO NOT put large quantities of white text over coloured backgrounds/photos; It is hard for the human eye to focus on giant chunks of white text on a highly contrasting background. I, myself will stop reading large amounts of white text as it gives me a headache. Put your reader first and ditch the backgrounds!


If you want a clean, professional document -WHITE SPACE is key. Don’t jam text/ photos in every inch of the page – the reader will feel overwhelmed and won’t take your information in! It is perfectly okay to print white space if anything it gives the feel of luxury and your reader will feel a sense of calm while reading.


If using A4 or A5 size paper, use 2 or 3 columns to outlay huge amounts of text, the short lines help for easy readability – if your lines of text are too long, the eye loses place more easily than if you were reading a shorter line of text. Full lines of text are still okay for short introductions & keynotes; however, the bulk information should be split into columns.

So go on, grab that glass and get formatting! And if you need a hand, I have over 8 years experience in long document/publication formatting- So just ask!

© Studio: tiffany gouge