Take a look at what factors determine an appropriate amount of leading.
- [Voiceover] Here are some considerations for choosing an appropriate leading value for your type. Fistly, wide columns. As your column gets wider, so too should your leading value increase. In the example on the left I'm using auto leading and this isn't enough for such a wide column. And in the example on the right you can see that I've made that text more readable by adding a few extra points of leading. When working with columns you need to consider the width of the gutter.
In the example on the left the gutter width is the same as the leading value, and I would suggest that this is a good starting point. In the center the gutter width is too big so that the visual relationship of the two columns is lost or diminished. And in the example on the right the gutter width is too small so that there is the danger of the reader reading across columns rather than down the column. Whenever you have white text reversing out of a colored background, that text is inherently less readable than black type on a white background.
And you can compensate for this by slightly increasing the leading and potentially slightly increasing the white of the type. The characteristics of a typeface should also be taken into account. Typefaces with a relatively low X height such as Adobe Jenson Pro can get away with relatively less leading. Typefaces with a high X height like Museo Sans require a bit extra leading.
Typefaces of the Modern or Didone class, because they have a very strong vertical stress, also benefit from a little extra leading so that the reader's eye continues to move along the line rather than is tempted to wander down the page. With display type you can often achieve more impact by using negative leading. Auto leading can fail miserably in situations like this, and that's what's happening here in the example on the left.
The auto leading value just looks way too big. Now because this type has a relatively low X height, I'm gonna zoom in on it, command, space bar, click and drag, and then select it, command, a. I can reduce the leading and actually go to negative leading, so that the type effectively overlaps and I'm just lucky with the way the characters fall allowing me to do that in this particular case. And I think that's a far more effective treatment.
When you have headlines set in all uppercase, they can benefit from negative leading. Because the type has no descenders, no parts of the letters that dip beneath the baseline, the lines will look too far apart when using auto leading or positive leading. Just for comparison I'm going to select this piece of type and duplicate it, option or alt, and drag away from it. And then I'll select that text, come up to my leading value and change that to auto.
Now we can see that the lines just look way too far apart from each other. As a general rule with leading, consistency is all important. The leading value sets the rhythm of your document and you want that rhythm to be steady, but there will be times with display type when you may need to adjust the leading optically. You may need to adjust it on a line-by-line basis. I'm gonna zoom in on this example on the left. Now because the word temptation is set in all caps it has no descenders, this gives us the visual impression that there's more space between lines three and four than between lines one and two, and two and three.
So to fix that I will select line four and press the keyboard shortcut option or alt and the up arrow to just nudge that line up by eye so that optically the leading is even. So those are a few considerations to take into account when determining the right leading amount for your text.
- Creating a typographic workspace
- Understanding the anatomy and terminology of type
- Choosing typefaces
- Sizing and scaling type
- Formatting characters
- Adjusting leading (aka line spacing)
- Tracking and kerning
- Using the Glyphs panel
- Adding special characters: dashes, quotes, ellipses, and more
- Using OpenType features like ligatures and fractions