I stumbled upon one rule about web design and can't put my finger on what on earth the author meant. What is "a type scale" in this context? Is it implied that fonts must be paired depending on the contrasting effect when they are placed close together?

Design is a series of rules, whether you realize it or not. There are some simple, explicit rules. Lines of text should be around 66 characters wide. Text colors should have appropriate contrast so as to be accessible. Widows and rivers in paragraphs of text should be avoided; the variations in a type scale reduced to provided juxtaposition to each other. Full text

  • Something is simply missing or wrong in that last sentence. I would say it's a mistake, but I can't guess at what it should be. Maybe contact the original author and refer him/her to this question.
    – LawrenceC
    May 15, 2017 at 20:03
  • The paper is based on analyzing font faces or "type". Type scale is the size of type/font used.
    – Peter
    May 15, 2017 at 21:41

2 Answers 2


I'm not quite sure what he's trying to say, but what I THINK he means is this:

"Type" means the characters that you print or display.

Thus "type scale" would mean the size of the type, i.e. the font size.

"The variations in type scale reduced" would therefore mean, "The differences in font size made less", that is, reduce the differences in font sizes.

"Juxtaposition" means putting two (or more) things next to each other, often so that they can be compared.

So I think what the writer is trying to say is that you should not use font sizes that are different but so similar that it is hard to tell them apart.

If someone else can make better sense of that sentence, I'll gladly yield. Either the writer is using terminology I'm not familiar with, or the sentence is very awkwardly worded.

  • The simple version of the rule is that you should use the same size font/type in a block of text, and in all related blocks of text. I'm not sure why the author didn't just say that.
    – Andrew
    May 15, 2017 at 20:15
  • @Andrew Yes, I THINK he was trying to say that you should use the same font size, or if there's a reason to have different font sizes, to make them different enough that the difference is obvious and not subtle. But I don't think the sentence is clear.
    – Jay
    May 15, 2017 at 20:19
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    I believe this is correct. It's always annoyed me in trade paperbacks, when one line of text is minutely smaller than those above and below it.
    – Davo
    May 15, 2017 at 20:24

If you look at Google's result for "type etymology", it may make more sense:

*Type* derives from an old word meani

So it comes from an old word meaning "to strike" - and that's what printing presses and typewriters do. So I believe the term relates back when text was primarily printed instead of also rendered on computer screens, and I would say it probably means the same as "font size."

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