Tag Archives: Hierarchy

Using Hierarchy

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This is the second half of last week’s piece on hierarchy. After giving this topic a week’s worth of thought, I realize that I’m not going to teach much of anything in this article. The subject is too broad. There are too many caveats to keep the end result down to a concise read. If you’d like to learn more about hierarchy, teach yourself something by trying things with hierarchical structure you’ve never tried before, which may or may not be illustrated and narrated below. The type in this piece comes from a previous Great Pair featuring Sindre Bremnes’s Telefon with Robert Slimbach’s Minion.

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Above illustrates a couple of common approaches to hierarchical ordering. Breaking content down into logical groupings, and presenting them in an accessible order is what an effective hierarchy does. Beside obvious or common ways of accomplishing this (mostly reliant upon a header’s type size or numbered systems), there are other and better ways.

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As mentioned in the piece before, a difference in scale can be measured by the negative space surrounding the element in question. Above I waste a spread in order to create a rhythmic disruption in the book at each chapter break. Below, I use the same content to create a different set of elements. The introductory text is set at the same size as its header (presumably in contrast to the type size in subsequent pages).

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If it makes sense to do it, a change of layout can serve as a hierarchical device. Rather than use all your space for a main column of content, keep some space free for important notes of various kinds. Also, I recommend the common-sense stuff such as keeping all body text the same size, adhering to a baseline grid, and setting up styles properly.

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Make use of sequential imagery, whether graphic, photographic or by using simple blocks of color, or colored type, or a device as simple as a progress bar. There are boundless intelligent ways of establishing and getting the most out of a clear, useful hierarchy, and if there’s one thing you take from this, I hope it’s that your education in this regard will be self-led, and fun if you remember to set fun rules to play by. Using Type continues here Thursday.

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