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Using multiple columns to create hierarchy

From: Typography for Web Designers

Video: Using multiple columns to create hierarchy

In this lesson, we're going to look at using two columns to create hierarchy in our sans serif bibliography. Along the way, we're going to pay attention to proximity so our sections remained visually chunked for our readers. Our goals are to create three levels of hierarchy, because we've got the main heading, the section headings, and the titles of the resources. We'll also retain legibility and maintain the clean modern feeling we've been creating in the text. Since we want to keep the layout clean, we won't be adding another font.

Using multiple columns to create hierarchy

In this lesson, we're going to look at using two columns to create hierarchy in our sans serif bibliography. Along the way, we're going to pay attention to proximity so our sections remained visually chunked for our readers. Our goals are to create three levels of hierarchy, because we've got the main heading, the section headings, and the titles of the resources. We'll also retain legibility and maintain the clean modern feeling we've been creating in the text. Since we want to keep the layout clean, we won't be adding another font.

We'll try to keep it simple and see what we can do with the two fonts we picked to work together earlier in the course. Inspired by the work we did on the serif bibliography, I'm going to jump in and use our second font right away. The Droid Serif is used for the h3, our resource titles, and I've paired it with PT Sans Bold for the section header. I'm not crazy about this, because there are more titles than section headers. And using the Droid Serif so much might make the page feel less simple, because of the serifs.

I've also used the Droid Serif for the main heading, so I'm not only using it in one place. While the display script font worked best on its own for the H1 in our serif version, sometimes a regular font can look out of place if it's only used for one thing in a layout. Using Droid Serif for the heading could be increasing the visual complexity and texture on the page though. There is a lot of serif type here. But when I change the h1 to PT Sans, the Droid Serif does look out of place among the sans-serif type.

We'll go back to Droid Serif for the h1 and swap our h2's and 3's. That way the serif will only be for the main heading and the section headings. This works. There will be a lot less serifs on the page. The PT Sans Bold is a great font, but it's strong. I'd like to see the section heads maybe have a little stronger hierarchy than the titles, but I don't necessarily want it bigger. Maybe it's not about making the section head stronger. Maybe the titles are too strong and need to be pulled back.

Returning the section heads to the smaller font size, I've made the titles regular weight and slightly bigger so they stand out from the description text. Now the section heads and titles, they look too much alike. We're losing contrast. I can italicize for titles. This gives us more contrast between the section heads and the titles, but it's still not working for me. First, the section head doesn't feel strong enough to say, "Hey, I'm a whole new section" and second, I love the italic for its humanist qualities, but using it so much on the page, well, it just makes the page feel sort of fancier than I want.

We're looking for clean and simple, so italics they're not going to work, because they're not simple. So I'm going to go back to my favorite version so far. I still want the section heads to have more emphasis and we've tried a variety of solutions and nothing seems to have worked yet. But we do have one more trick up our sleeves and that's space. If we move the section head over to the side it's suddenly stands out quite a bit. Its placement is unique and it draws our attention. In fact, we can even make it a bit smaller, and this is great. But when working with two columns to create hierarchy we have to pay extra attention to proximity.

The space between the section head and title here is too close. It looks like it only belongs to the one title. In fact, it almost starts to read as Choosing and The Elements of Typographic Style. If the space between them is too wide they don't feel like they belong together at all,. The section head just floats away. The trick is defining a good horizontal spacing, not too far and not too close. We can further emphasize that all the titles belong to the section by adding a subtle horizontal rule for the section heading.

You'll notice I added the rule line last. I always try to get the layout to work using type and space first, then the rule will be the perfect addition to the system. If you add the rule line first, it can act like a band-aid on a deep cut and it doesn't really solve any of the hierarchy or spacing problems. It just covers them up. Okay, that's it. We've developed our three levels of hierarchy for the sans serif version of the bibliography.

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This video is part of

Image for Typography for Web Designers
Typography for Web Designers

74 video lessons · 13495 viewers

Laura Franz
Author

 
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  1. 6m 18s
    1. Welcome
      1m 9s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 57s
    3. Things to consider before starting this course
      3m 12s
  2. 41m 3s
    1. Understanding how good typography promotes reading
      2m 9s
    2. Understanding legibility
      4m 41s
    3. Understanding how fonts convey meaning
      5m 19s
    4. Choosing web-safe fonts to convey meaning
      6m 13s
    5. Using font size, case, style, letter spacing, weight, and color to convey meaning
      6m 22s
    6. Choosing web fonts to convey meaning
      6m 23s
    7. Downloading web fonts
      4m 9s
    8. Applying web fonts in CSS with @font-face
      5m 47s
  3. 38m 0s
    1. Choosing a web-safe font for use in text
      4m 13s
    2. Applying the web-safe font to the text and the heading
      3m 4s
    3. Setting a class for the resource titles in the text
      3m 45s
    4. Choosing a second web-safe font for the heading
      2m 42s
    5. Applying the second font to the heading
      2m 16s
    6. Choosing a web font from the Google Font API for use in text
      5m 44s
    7. Adding and applying the Google Font API syntax
      4m 29s
    8. Choosing a second web font from the Google Font API for the heading
      2m 56s
    9. Adding and applying the second font to the heading
      4m 52s
    10. Analyzing the fonts on some professional sites
      3m 59s
  4. 55m 31s
    1. Understanding how we read
      4m 34s
    2. Finding and applying a good font size and line height
      4m 50s
    3. Finding and applying a good line length
      8m 6s
    4. Understanding ems
      6m 17s
    5. Using ems to set font size
      6m 9s
    6. Using ems to set line length
      3m 40s
    7. Understanding how color affects readability
      3m 58s
    8. Improving a color palette by improving contrast
      5m 39s
    9. Improving a color palette by reducing optical vibration
      4m 59s
    10. Analyzing text readability on the professional sites
      7m 19s
  5. 1h 11m
    1. Understanding how we "chunk" visual elements
      3m 59s
    2. Developing a system of hierarchy
      2m 17s
    3. Applying hierarchy in HTML and CSS
      7m 16s
    4. Developing a system to help chunk text for readers
      6m 1s
    5. Applying the system in the CSS
      4m 19s
    6. Changing an element by creating and applying a class
      5m 0s
    7. Using multiple columns to create hierarchy
      4m 12s
    8. Building a two-column system in HTML and CSS
      10m 56s
    9. Refining the horizontal space in a two-column layout
      6m 1s
    10. Adding rule lines to improve chunking
      5m 50s
    11. Adding emphasis within a heading
      4m 36s
    12. Analyzing the chunking on the professional sites
      11m 18s
  6. 17m 57s
    1. Understanding classic and modernist typographic pages
      7m 3s
    2. Understanding how to create rhythm and tension
      6m 0s
    3. Applying typography skills when making design decisions
      4m 54s
  7. 55m 47s
    1. Designing typographic links for the traditional page
      5m 54s
    2. Adding a list of links to the traditional page
      8m 44s
    3. Describing the link states in CSS
      6m 30s
    4. Returning links to their original "unvisited" style
      2m 38s
    5. Using different CSS for different kinds of links
      7m 28s
    6. Using CSS notation to organize syntax
      5m 34s
    7. Choosing a background color or image
      4m 0s
    8. Applying a repeating background image
      2m 58s
    9. Shaping the traditional page layout
      6m 38s
    10. Analyzing the traditional typographic elements on the professional sites
      5m 23s
  8. 43m 0s
    1. Designing typographic links for the modernist page
      6m 47s
    2. Making a list of links run across the page
      2m 14s
    3. Adding and removing space between the navigation links
      6m 50s
    4. Styling the inline links on the modernist page
      5m 33s
    5. Choosing a background color or image for the modernist bibliography
      4m 4s
    6. Applying a no-repeat background image
      4m 13s
    7. Shaping the modernist page layout
      6m 58s
    8. Analyzing the modernist typographic elements on the professional sites
      6m 21s
  9. 52m 53s
    1. Fixing quotation marks and apostrophes
      6m 59s
    2. Fixing dashes
      6m 33s
    3. Working with lining figures (numbers) and acronyms
      9m 28s
    4. Fixing characters that don't look right
      8m 19s
    5. Hanging punctuation
      2m 54s
    6. Applying typographic accents
      2m 36s
    7. Vertically centering text
      5m 18s
    8. Creating drop caps
      5m 59s
    9. Analyzing the typographic details on the professional sites
      4m 47s
  10. 3m 9s
    1. Additional resources
      3m 9s

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