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Regardless of what you may have heard, people read content on the Web. People search for things they need or want to know. They get lost in stories. People read what is important to them. Thus, our most important job is to help readers find, understand, and connect with the words, ideas, and information they seek. People read in three ways. People read casually, skimming over text, reading words or paragraphs here or there to get a sense of what it says.
For example, a reader will skim the headlines of an online news source looking for articles of interest. People scan with purpose, jumping from place to place on a site, looking for a specific piece of information. They may only read the first word or character of each item as they scan the screen. For example, when looking for contact information on a web page, a reader will look for a link that starts with the letter C, ignoring all the other links in the list.
People read in an engaged manner. When they find an article or blog post they are interested in, they will slowdown and read the whole text. They may even go into a trance like state. For example, when reading an article on a favorite site, a reader will focus on the text, reading it at their leisure. We can help facilitate all three ways of reading. This is what text looks like without applying typography. Good typography promotes reading. Font choice and size keep text legible and meaningful.
Good line length and line height can help guide our reader's eyes and ease the burden of following horizontal lines of text. Vertical spacing and hierarchy break up text into meaningful, manageable chunks of information. As web designers, we can use typography to create chunks of legible, meaningful, readable, scannable text. We can use typography to promote the reading and understanding of web content.
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