Leading

There are key techniques which have the ability to transform lack lustre typography into jaw-dropping typography.

In this post I’ll teach you about leading, which is line spacing, including what you need to know to apply it to your own work.

What is it?

The definition of leading is: “the distance between two baselines of lines of type. The word ‘leading’ originates from the strips of lead hand-typesetters used to use to space out lines of text evenly”. The word leading has stuck, but essentially it’s a typographer’s term for line spacing.

Why Do Designers Use Leading?

Leading is one of the best, fastest, and simplest ways you can tweaks your typography to look instantly better.

Software like InDesign, sets a default leading value whenever you type up more than one line of text. Any smart designer knows this is not usually generous enough. This will suffice if you’re creating a crammed front page for a newspaper, but a well versed designer will add more leading.

Increasing the amount of leading allows the text to breathe and instantly more attractive. There are even practical advantages, for readers increasing leading makes text easier to read, and it’s make it easier to read for extend periods of time. 

So if you’re designing a book or magazine layout, increasing your leading will ensure your audience is captive for longer.

Pro Tips

Leading isn’t as straight forward as it may seem, it takes a good eye and practice to get it right. Here are some tips and tricks: 

  • “While generous leading can improve the look of paragraphs, making the leading overly generous can disrupt the flow of the text and impact on legibility. Print out different leading settings before going to print, to make sure you can read the text comfortably.”

  • Have a colored background? Or a dark background? Apply slightly more generous leading than normal to make the text that much easier to read.

  • “Different fonts will suit different leading settings, as the x-height (the height of lowercase letters) will vary between fonts. Fonts with shorter x-heights won’t require as much leading as those with taller lowercase letters.”


Tracking

Serif VS Sans