Choosing the right font size can make or break a brochure, so it isn't a decision to be made lightly. The goal of a brochure is to attract attention and provide information. A brochure that is not legible, or doesn't attract attention, will simply not be read. Different font sizes should be used effectively to help readers quickly differentiate between headlines, subheads, new subjects and body type. Font size, along with font style, can help establish the mood of the brochure and play a pivotal role in the "story" it is trying to tell.

Select a highly legible font that reflects the tone of what you are trying to say. Serif fonts, such as Century Schoolbook, Century Expanded, Times New Roman, Georgia, or Palatino, work best for body type. You may prefer to select a type "family"--such as Times--using its many variations for all of your different brochure elements (body text, headlines, captions). Limit the number of fonts used to under three to achieve a consistent look that can forge your brand image.

Design a maximum visual hierarchy, making your headlines the largest font size used in the brochure. Don't boost your point size just to fill up extra space, create impact where it matters, like the front cover. Keep all subheads the same size.

Set the text at a 12 point font size. Avoid font sizes that are smaller and more difficult to read.

Make enough room between the lines, giving the type a leading 120% to 130% the size of the type. (A 12-point text would be set on a leading of 14 to 15 points.)

Make sure that no lines in the body of the text are shorter than the font size or longer than double the font size measured in picas (range of 12 to 24 picas equals 2 to 4 inches).

Set off photo captions in bold, to create contrast, rather than setting them in a smaller type size.

Vary the font size of individual parts of the brochure according to their importance, but be consistent throughout with each part. Reserve larger type sizes for the most important headlines.

Tip

  • Use bullet points to break up the text and keep paragraphs short.

    Avoid crowding elements on the page or pushing type together. Don't try to use up every inch of white space on your brochure. Effective use of white space adds to readability and enhances the design.

    Understand the language. Designers generally work in picas and points, measuring type and photo width in picas and font (or type) sizes in points. There are 6 picas in one inch and 12 points in one pica. Therefore, a headline that's one-inch tall is 72 points (6 x 12), measured from the top of the ascenders to the bottom of the descenders in lower-case letters. A "t", for example, has an ascender--a portion of the lowercase letter that rises above the main body of the letter. A "y" has a descender. The "x" height is the height of the letters without an ascender or descender (essentially, the height of the letter "x".

    Leading is the amount of space between lines, measured in points; kerning is the amount of space between adjacent letters.

Tip

  • Avoid round typefaces with overly large x-heights such as ITC Garamond Light, ITC Avant Garde, or Century Gothic that can make your type look pushed together. Common fonts like Helvetica and Arial become awkward at small sizes with letters and numbers blending together.