LibreOffice: Fonts, page color, and the magic number

Slashdot it! Delicious Share on Facebook Tweet! Digg!

Font Sizes

Traditionally, fonts are measured in points. In the digital age, this measurement has been standardized as one-seventy-second of an inch or 2.5 centimeters. Previously, a point was actually slightly less, but it remains defiantly non-metric and a sign of typographic expertise.

When working with fonts, you should set LibreOffice's default measurement unit to points from Tools | Options | LibreOffice Writer | General | Settings . Using points will make the design process much easier. You can always change the Measurement unit back to centimeters or inches when you start to add content.

The font size refers to the amount of space given to each character and the empty space around it. However, how each font uses the empty space can vary tremendously. Each font uses a different amount of empty space, which explains why the actual height of fonts of the same size is inconsistent. In fact, the actual height can vary considerably (Figure 8).

Figure 8: Fonts size refers to the amount of space given to each letter. Because some fonts use different amounts of white space, they can look bigger or smaller than fonts of the same size.

The standard size for body text is usually 10-14 points. Text for captions and notes sometimes goes as low as 8 points, whereas headings and titles are rarely more than 28 points. If a font has a lot of white space around it, you might want to use it at a slightly larger size sometimes to compensate.

Choosing Fonts

Choosing a font begins with understanding the impression you want to make. For example, a commonly used font helps put readers in an accepting mood, whereas an unusual one might reinforce an impression of innovation.

At times, a font might need to fit the constraints of the page. A tall, narrow page, for example, might be matched with a similarly tall and narrow font. Or maybe a font has some association with the content – for example, at least one edition of Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles was printed in Baskerville font.

The main purpose of the body text is that it must be easily readable by your audience in the conditions in which they are likely to see it. For example, if you are designing a memo template for a low-resolution fax, you might prefer a larger, bold text style. Similarly, a brochure aimed at seniors might use a larger font size than usual. In other cases, you may be limited by a lower printer resolution or even a temporary shortage of toner to fonts with thick, consistent lines.

Often, a key feature for body text is the x-height . This is just what it sounds like: the height of the lower case letter x , as well as lowercase letters such as r and m . As a rule, the higher the x-height, the more readable a font is likely to be.

The heading font is used for anything that guides readers through the document, but is not actually content. It is used most obviously by the Headings 1-10 styles in Writer . It can belong to the same font family as the body text, but, if so, it should be a different font style, size, or color.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF

Pages: 5

Price $0.99
(incl. VAT)

Buy Ubuntu User

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content