Typewolf

Flawless Typography Checklist

An exhaustive typography master course that doubles as an interactive tool that will help you achieve flawless type on every design project.

“Design is 95% typography.”

“Typography is graphic design’s secret club.”

As a designer, you’ve heard quotes like these before and you fully realize the importance of good typography. You’ve probably read a book or two about typography and skimmed through hundreds of random online articles. Maybe you even took a class back in college. But how confident are you that you actually remember all of the complex typography rules and best practices you’ve learned over the years?

To deal with this issue in the past, I’ve always referenced a scattered mess of sources: a few go-to books on my bookshelf, a Google doc full of random typography tips I’ve learned, a massive collection of bookmarked articles and web resources, and finally, a mental list of type rules floating around inside my head. On every design project, I would browse through these sources and hope that I was remembering all the key tenets of creating beautiful and functional typography.

I would end up overlooking things that I had learned years ago (and instead focus on using pretty typefaces and colors). My typography suffered. This common problem is probably why the web is still plagued by poor type, even in the year 2017 when designers should know better.

What I really needed was a single, definitive resource that covered everything about typography—from punctuation rules to pairing typefaces. Something that I could quickly review against on every project. Nothing like that existed, so I set out to create it…

I ordered a stack of typography books from Amazon and re-read the handful of books already on my shelf. I took meticulous notes on every piece of practical advice I could find. As it’s not possible for printed books to keep up with the latest in web typography, I hit up Google and did a search on everything related to setting type on screens. I added over two hundred articles to a spreadsheet and individually reviewed each one. I added additional notes incorporating every tip and trick I’ve learned from reviewing hundreds of typographic designs on Typewolf over the past three years.

After weeks of organizing pages and pages of notes, I began the long process of consolidating everything into a single resource. I had originally planned on making this into an online course but I wanted something that could be easily referred back to later. I eventually came up with the concept of an interactive checklist where each checklist item could be expanded to reveal more in-depth details. This would allow the best of both worlds—expand all of the checklist items to read it straight through as a complete course on typography or collapse the items and check them off, only expanding when you need more details.

The end result is the Flawless Typography Checklist. Over a year in the making, it’s the biggest project I’ve ever worked on in my entire life. It consolidates absolutely everything there is to know about typography in one place. It’s the most comprehensive resource on typography available—online or in print. Read it straight through as a complete master course or use it as a tool on every design project to guarantee your typography will always be flawless.

Everything there is to know about typography gathered in one place

  • Covers absolutely everything—punctuation rules, body text best practices, typeface pairing, branding tips and much, much more
  • Includes one hundred checklist items organized into six sections—quickly navigate the checklist via a sleek set of keyboard controls
  • Each checklist item includes a detailed description, a visual example demonstrating the principle and additional tips (and often a relevant quote from a typography book)
  • Save hours of time—no need to pick up that dusty typography book sitting on your shelf or aimlessly search Google—everything you need is right here at your fingertips

Learn from visual examples that show what to do (and what not to do)

  • If you are like most designers, then you learn best by looking at visual examples rather than reading dense paragraphs—each typography principle includes a large image that clearly demonstrates the concept

Quickly absorb all of the practical advice extracted from eight typography books and over two hundred online articles

  • Includes every actionable tip distilled from eight of the most well-regarded books on typography
  • Printed books can’t keep up with the latest best practices in web typography, so this product also includes current information from over two hundred online articles (and will be continuously updated to make sure everything stays up-to-date)

Learn more than just the “rules” of typography—discover how to get truly gorgeous type

  • You can probably recognize a site that has nice typography but you might not know exactly why—in the Design & Branding section, I deconstruct what makes type-driven designs effective
  • I’ve reviewed hundreds of typographic designs on Typewolf over the past three years—every tip and trick I’ve learned is collected here

Designed to be read straight through as a complete typography master course

  • My goal was to make this product more comprehensive than any college-level course on typography
  • This is the only educational resource on typography you will ever need—there is nothing out there that is more thorough and exhaustive, either online or in print
  • Read this from start to finish and you will know more about typography than 99% of designers

Use the checklist as a tool to ensure your typography is flawless on every design project

  • Check off items as you complete them—the percentage bar will tick up showing how close you are to achieving flawless typography
  • The checklist will remember your checked items so you can pick up where you left off
  • Collapse and expand checklist items for more in-depth details and to see visual examples demonstrating the principles
  • Use the numbers on your keyboard to quickly navigate the checklist

Code snippets for properly implementing advanced OpenType features on the web

  • Includes comprehensive coverage on using cutting-edge OpenType features such as small caps, standard and discretionary ligatures, tabular figures, lining figures, oldstyle figures and swashes

Become a master at pairing typefaces

  • The Typeface Selection & Pairing section is the part of this product that I am the most proud of—I believe it is the clearest guide to pairing typefaces in existence and is worth the price of the product alone
  • Almost all typeface pairing guides that I’ve read are full of vague, ambiguous advice such as “seek out harmonious proportions”—I’ve put together a clear, straightforward system that anyone can use to find typefaces that pair well together
  • Includes a cheatsheet that shows exactly how to pair 180 of the most popular typefaces used by designers

Free lifetime updates

  • I will be actively updating and improving this product so it will always be the most up-to-date resource on typography available
  • I’ll be using this tool myself on every design project for years to come

A labor of love that was over a year in the making

  • Putting this together is the biggest project I’ve ever worked on in my entire life—I’ve poured over every tiny detail and it includes an OCD-level of comprehensiveness
  • I’ll gladly refund your money if you are at all unhappy with the product

Invest in your career as a designer

  • Become the type expert on your design team who knows everything about typography—after reading this, you’ll know more about typography than 99% of designers
  • Design skills are in high demand and with a mastery of typography you will be able to charge much more for your work
  • Integrate this tool into your workflow to ensure you will have flawless typography on every design project for years to come

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Preview the checklist

Jeremiah Shoaf

By Jeremiah Shoaf  ·  Last updated on February 11, 2017

Typography books

How to set type is nine-tenths of what a designer needs to know, and you’ll find 100% of what you need to know about it in Jeremiah Shoaf’s Flawless Typography Checklist. In this elegant, streamlined setting—half master class, half interactive tool—Shoaf crystallizes the wisdom of nearly a dozen classic type books, along with hundreds of articles. Savor it as a tutorial, or keep it open on your desk as a cheat sheet. Don’t set type without it!
Jeffrey Zeldman Jeffrey Zeldman
Founder of studio.zeldman & A List Apart
One of the most comprehensive and comprehensible guides to typography I’ve ever seen. There’s valuable lessons in here for everyone who works with type.
Khoi Vinh Khoi Vinh
Principal Designer at Adobe

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is this product a typography course or just a simple checklist?

The Flawless Typography Checklist is an interactive visual checklist that is organized to be read straight through as a complete master course on typography. Each of the one hundred checklist items includes a detailed description, a visual example demonstrating the principle and additional tips (and often a relevant quote from a typography book). The checklist items can be collapsed after reading so it functions more as a typographic tool that you can use on every design project to ensure your typography is always flawless. A friend described the product as “100 visually-enhanced mini-essays on typography” which may be a more fitting description than checklist.

Why should I trust you?

I stare at type all day long working on my side project Typewolf. I’ve analyzed hundreds of sites, deconstructing what makes the typography effective (and ineffective). Additionally, I’ve been a professional designer for 15 years, working with some of the top agencies in the world like AKQA and SapientNitro and with brands such as Discovery Channel and Pepsi. I’ve written for A List Apart, Offscreen, Communication Arts, net and Smashing Magazine. Typography is my passion and I’m constantly striving to read and learn more every single day.

Did you really spend over a year creating this?

Much more than a year actually—just not all at once. Although I spent almost all of 2016 working on it (minus some time off for a new baby), I first started this project way back in 2014. This was right after Typewolf had begun to gain some real traction. I knew that if I wanted to keep Typewolf going then I would have to make the site financially viable considering the vast amount of time and money I was pouring into what was just a side project.

Monetizing with advertising didn’t seem like the right fit for Typewolf—I’m personally just not a fan of a publishing model that relies on ever intrusive ads that annoy readers. And back then the site traffic wasn’t enough to make any real money anyway (although now with one million pageviews a month, ads could probably bring in decent revenue). So rather than sell ads, I decided I would create and sell an educational product instead. My readers would learn more about typography, while I could make Typewolf sustainable—really a win-win situation. I began the initial research in between freelance projects in 2014 and then devoted much more time to the product in 2015 and 2016. I originally told my wife I’d have this launched before our first baby was born in January 2016, but it ended up taking an entire year longer than I planned.

I’m a total beginner when it comes to typography. Is this product right for me?

I created it assuming an understanding of basic typography terminology—I don’t waste time explaining the difference between a serif and a sans-serif typeface, for instance. It also assumes a basic understanding of the web (you should know what HTML and CSS are). That being said, my goal was to be 100% comprehensive and cover absolutely everything there is to know about typography, from beginner topics that everyone should already know, to advanced topics that I wasn’t aware of until I did the research to write this.

I’m already an expert in typography. Will I learn anything new from this?

Before creating this product, I had thought of myself as fairly knowledgeable on all things typography. However, after doing the research for this (reading and re-reading eight typography books and over two hundred online articles), I discovered that I really didn’t know as much about typography as I had previously thought. I’m confident that even the most hardcore type geeks will still learn quite a bit from this product. It includes extensive information that I have not seen written about anywhere else—tips that I’ve learned from analyzing type on Typewolf over last three years as well as lessons I’ve learned from my 15 years of experience as a professional designer. The Typeface Selection & Pairing section outlines a unique and innovative system for pairing typefaces that you won’t find in any book or online article. For what it’s worth, someone told me that they’ve read 10+ books on typography and still found it full of useful tips.

Why is this so expensive? I can’t afford this.

The target audience for the Flawless Typography Checklist is professional designers. Professional designers readily invest in tools that save them time and improve their craft. I personally spend on high-quality products that improve my design work—the Domaine type family I use on Typewolf cost me $1650 and my iMac is worth more than my car. Design skills are in high demand and with a mastery of typography you will be able to charge much more for your work.

For a student/hobbyist, I can understand why the price may seem expensive, especially if you are comparing it to a simple e-book. But if you view the product as a complete typography course that doubles as an always-up-to-date interactive tool that you will use for years to come, then I think the value becomes much more apparent. I spent over a year creating it with the majority of that time being spent on research—I really believe it is the most exhaustive resource on typography ever put together. Lifetime updates are included for free, so it’s the last typography resource you will ever need to purchase.

If you still find the price prohibitively expensive, ask your employer to pay for it. Many customers were able to put this purchase on the company credit card. Employers will often set aside money for investing in the education of their employees, so it doesn’t hurt to ask your boss. And if you are a freelancer, work-related education expenses are usually a tax write-off.

Do you offer a student discount?

Yes. Please contact me at jeremiah@typewolf.com from an .edu email address for more details.

Does the product focus on web or print design?

Although many of the principles are timeless and can apply to any medium, the core focus is on designing for screens.

Does the product cover responsive design?

I feel like the term responsive design is no longer needed when it comes to designing for screens. It should be implied that all modern designs will function seamlessly (and beautifully) across a wide variety of different device sizes. Everything in this product is approached with that perspective in mind.

How do I navigate through the massive amount of content in the checklist?

  • Click the check all/uncheck all  buttons in the table of contents at the top to quickly collapse or expand all items
  • Click the section titles to collapse or expand all items within that section (this feature is disabled in the demo version)
  • Click the individual checklist items to collapse or expand the content within that item
  • Press 1–6 on your keyboard to jump between sections
  • Press 0 to jump to the top, 7 to jump to the bottom and 8 to jump to the table of contents
  • On touch devices, tap the percentage bar to jump to the table of contents which can be used as navigation

Can I print out the checklist?

I wouldn’t recommend printing out the checklist. It would use 150 sheets of paper and a lot of the full-size images would be cut off. The interactive functionality would also be lost. If you would like to read it away from your computer, it reads very nicely on a phone or tablet.

Will the checklist remember which items I have checked?

The checklist sets a cookie to remember which items you have checked. You can exit your browser and the checked items will be saved, however, if you access the checklist from a different browser, the checked items will not be remembered.

Does every design project need to reach 100% on the checklist?

No, of course not. Every design project is different and not every checklist item will be relevant to every single project. And it’s fine to break the “rules” of typography when you have a good reason for doing so. The important thing is to make sure you understand each checklist item before checking it off or skipping it.

Why are there exactly  100 checklist items?

After my initial research, I came up with 108 different checklist items. I then combined/grouped some of the items to make it an even 100.

Can the checklist be used offline? Do I need an internet connection?

The product is delivered as a single-page web app. Once the page is downloaded, no further HTTP requests are made. The content will be cached in your web browser, so you should be able to read and check off items without an active internet connection.

Will this product be updated? Do I get free access to all the updates?

Yes and yes. I will be continuously improving this product as well as making sure the included CSS snippets are always the latest and most up-to-date versions available on the web.

Can I share my login info with other people?

No. Each purchase allows for a single user to log in and access the product. Sharing your login info may result in deletion of your account. You will need to purchase additional copies for each person who needs to access the checklist.

Do you offer volume licensing for design teams and educators?

Yes. Please contact me at jeremiah@typewolf.com for more details.

How does purchasing work? Is it secure?

Payment is made securely over SSL/HTTPS using any major credit card. The checkout process is handled by the awesome folks over at Memberful and the payment processing is through Stripe. Please do not close the window as the payment is being processed—it can sometimes take upwards of 10 seconds to go through. Typewolf does not have access to and does not store any credit card data (neither does Memberful). After purchasing, you will be automatically logged in and redirected to the Flawless Typography Checklist. You will receive an invoice receipt email and an additional email containing instructions on accessing the product. The entire checkout process takes roughly 20–30 seconds. Visit this page for more details.

Do you accept PayPal?

My system is only set up to handle credit cards, however, if PayPal is your only option then you can send payment to jeremiah@typewolf.com. Be sure to send me an additional email letting me know what email address you would like to use for your account login. I will have to manually set up the account for you, so it won’t be instant access. Usually, I can do it the same day, however, if I am traveling it could potentially take longer.

Are there any recurring charges for this product?

No. It’s just a one-time purchase. There are no recurring charges. Lifetime updates are included for free—just log in to your account and you will have access to the latest version.

What if I’m not happy with my purchase?

I offer a 30-day money-back guarantee if you are unhappy for any reason.

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