How Typography Influences Perception in Advertising

“Typography is the detail and the presentation of a story. It represents the voice of an atmosphere, or historical setting of some kind. It can do a lot of things”, Cyrus Highsmith, author of the book ‘Inside Paragraphs: Typographic Fundamentals’, said.

Nowadays, it can be easy for advertisers to get lost in a never-ending cycle of producing content and the fast pace of the internet, while distracting from the importance of typography – the tracking, kerning, and letter spacing, that can give our ads an extra possibility of success.

However, a century ago, in his book ‘The typography of advertisements’, Trezise (1911, p.49) has already discussed the necessity of typography in advertising. A great copy is, of course, integral to good advertising. However, before that, the ad needs to capture people’s attention. That’s when an excellent typography, which is accomplished by a good design and pleasing type-faces, helps the ad to allure audiences.

The second reason that makes typography essential is that it creates a visual hierarchy for the ad. It tells the audience what’s the most important in the texts and helps them to navigate information. For example, bolded text draws attention; colors highlight points; and bullet points help arrange pieces of information for easy understanding.

Finally, typography helps to convey your brand message. In her book ‘Advertising by design’, Robin Landa says each typeface has a “specific character; and it should be appropriate for the advertising idea and message” (p.129). In a study about the effect of typeface on brand perception, Rompay and Pruyn (2011) also suggest that typeface design and aesthetic value in advertisements or product’s package can positively influence consumers’ perception of brand credibility and price expectations.

In an advertisement, if copy is the king, then typography is its crown. Therefore, when writing copy for the ads, thinking about the typography is as equally important as the copy itself.

Here is a great example of how typography contributes to the success of an ad.

amnesty leg ad

This print ad is brilliant in using typography to attract our attention. What most succeeds here is the composition of the typeface and the image. This is what Landa (2010, p.129) calls ‘a marriage’ of the type and the image, which helps the ad not only instill emotion but also reinforce the client’s message.

However, good typography should be easy on the eyes, and encouraging people to continue enjoying your ads.


The concept is great to promote WMF knife. The typography is beautiful. But is it easy for you to read the text? Maybe the typeface and the complicated mix between red and yellow here makes it difficult for people to get the message at first sight.

Too many font styles, too much color, or too much creativity can be overwhelming. Trezise (1911, p.20) warns that “Too many display features make a good advertisement impossible in spite of the best effort of the designers.” Using too many font styles, for example, may create a constant war within the text and risk losing readers. Therefore, a good typography requires not only creativity as an integral component, but also strategic considerations.

Typography in advertising is an art itself. What advertisers need to do is mindfully use it to make your ads truly shine!


Landa, R. (2004). Advertising by Design : Creating Visual Communications with Graphic Impact.

Trezise, F.J. 1911, The typography of advertisements. 

Van Rompay, T., & Pruyn, A. (2011). When Visual Product Features Speak the Same Language: Effects of Shape-Typeface Congruence on Brand Perception and Price Expectations. The Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(4), 599.


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