Leading

So with Kerning and Tracking, we were talking about horizontal spacing between letters.  Now we’ll talk about Leading (pronounced “Ledding”, not “Leeding”), which is the vertical space between lines of text.  It’s a little more straightforward, but still an important text designing concept that people might not worry about much.

leading text

Notice in the above image that the Auto setting puts the lines fairly far apart.  It’s pretty similar to what you would see in a novel, but not so much what you would see on a magazine cover, probably.  Another reason it looks like they’re far apart is that most of those all-caps letters don’t drop below the baseline of the font (“J” being the exception there), so that space isn’t getting filled with tails of letters (such as “g”, “p”, “y”, etc.).

The main reason I usually spend time on the Leading is to make sure lines that go together (in a title, little blurb or short paragraph) feel cohesive.  Your brain combines them as one thought even before it reads the words to see if they make sense together.

A good example of using Leading to group chunks of text together is in this magazine cover announcement, where the various article titles and information might have gotten jumbled together too much with just the default line spacing.

Now truthfully, for things like titles and those magazine article titles, where it’s just 1-3 lines of text, much of the time I’ll just use separate layers of text and place them where I want independently of each other, using the Move tool.  But whether you’re using the Leading control on the text layer, or doing separate pieces of text, the concept of the amount of space between lines is still the important thing.

Well, if you’re still with me after those two posts of text designing, thanks for staying.  Much much more could be said about these and other aspects of text design, but hopefully these posts can at least start you thinking differently about putting text on a page, so it will be more aesthetically pleasing.

Do you have other types of examples where you’ve used Leading successfully?  Share them in the comments!