Oscars stuffup caused by bad typography?

Posted on 03/03/2017 by Karen


A client of mine sent me a link this week to an article written by Benjamin Bannister. The picture above is from that article and there’s a link to the full article at the end of this post, but the gist of it is this. Good typography (type design) could have saved the day.

Unfortunately, the problem is usually invisible

The problem is that good typography is a bit like good design and good writing. You don’t really notice it unless it’s not there. Unless it’s bad design, bad writing or bad typography.

Bad design includes product design

I never noticed how good my smoothie stick mixer thingy was until it broke and I thought I’d just buy a cheapie one for 20 bucks. Wow. The cord wound up around itself like a python, the handle was slippery and a funny shape so it wasn’t easy to hold, the button was in the wrong place, it was just really awkward to use. Never really fully appreciated that good design until I lost it.

Good writing is effortless to read

So effortless, you don’t even notice it. On the other hand, you notice bad writing when you just can’t read a blog post, a web page, a brochure or a novel. Most people don’t bother to employ a professional writer to write their website. Because anybody can write. Right? The results of bad writing aren’t really that obvious until you realise your website isn’t working for you, even though you’re on page 1 and get thousands of hits. But no buys.

Which brings me to typography and the Oscars stuffup

Nobody much, except good graphic designers and typographers (if there are still any around, it’s one of those beautiful dying arts) notice it. And unless it’s for a huge sign, who cares, right? Well, the photo above should illustrate the difference between good and bad typography. And, well, we all know what happened at the Oscars.

Now, in the big scheme of things, nobody died. In fact, I often thank my lucky stars that I am fortunate enough to be in job where if I do happen to make a mistake, the worst case scenario is that an apostrophe would be in the wrong place. As opposed to a bus driver, who if they made a mistake maybe somebody dies. But enough about death. Back to typography.

So why does a copywriter care so much about typography?

Before I became a writer, I did a graphic design course which included typography studies. I love the beauty of good design and well-designed type. But it’s also about getting the message across properly. Because…

What’s the use of great words if nobody reads them?

Much of my work is writing for a client, or editing their existing web content. But another part of what I do is to help make sure that the content is presented in a way that will increase the chance that it will be read. Here are 3 ways that the words on a website can be improved without changing them!

  1. Create subheadings to lead the reader through. Like I’ve done above.
  2. Highlight the main points — often gems of information are buried in reams and reams of unimportant blurb.
  3. Organise the information on your website so that when people click on a menu item, they get what they’re looking for.

If you need help with any of the above, give me a call. Karen, Copy with Cream on 0412 322 982. We can probably get to the core of the issue in a simple brainstorming session.

A link to the full article by Benjamin Bannister.
Why typography matters especially at the Oscars