Layout, for both print and screen, is one of the most important aspects of graphic design. Designs that extend across multiple pages or screens, whether containing large or small amounts of type, must be carefully controlled in a way that is enticing and is easy for all to access. Careful control of visual hierarchy is a key aspect of the design decisions we have to consider.

In this article, we will look at how frequently type needs to be broken down into different levels, such as topic, importance and tone of voice. We will explore how this can be achieved visually by relying on several things: texture and tone, seeing the designer as reader, combining typefaces, using color, employing multiple types and, of course, using the grid. Seeing the complexities that can be expressed through typography is fascinating — not to say that images cannot help to order content, but simply that the most significant elements are expressed typographically.

Letterforms make words, and words have meaning. While scale, tone, texture and composition will always be relevant, people’s recognition of the meanings of actual words has to be considered when designing with type. Reading through and trying to understand the copy used in a project is vital to deciding the order and relative importance of information. It is also valuable for the designer to identify highly topical subject matter, words and letters that make intriguing connections, challenging language and even shocking statements that are likely to attract attention.

In order to improve the target audience’s understanding of the design and facilitate their interaction with it, the designer needs to step into their shoes and interpret the hierarchy that they’re given, perhaps augmenting it or suggesting alternatives.