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What is Leading?

When we talk about typography, leading is the most commonly used term. Leading is the difference between the baseline of the types. In simple terms, the distance between the two lines of text is leading. Leading is extensively being used in the areas of User Interface Design. Correct spacing can make or break the interface. The tighter spacing values in newspapers makes the text difficult to read sometimes.

Why is leading crucial in typography?

Readability is an important aspect that should be taken care of when we talk about designing interfaces. To ensure readability, there must be enough distance between the bottom of the words of the previous line and the top of the words of the next line. Typography isn’t just about choosing fonts, text size, and color; it also takes care of how the content is placed on the screen. Right leading ensures that the text is easy on the eyes. Text is easy to ready if the leading is neither too loose nor too tight, as it conveys the message you intend the user to understand.

Purpose of leading

Sometimes the way interfaces are designed too heavy to the eyes. For a dark interface, it is recommended to use greater leading and light-weighted typeface, to enhance the readability of the interface. Similarly, different colors add different kinds of weight to the screen, making it difficult to even look at the interface. It can be fixed using correct spacing between the lines, leading.

How is leading measured in typography?

There is no correct way to measure leading. It is based upon the context and the interface being used. Leading is measured in the sense of tight or loose leading. A tight leading is generally used in print media and newspapers, where they have to provide too much information in a smaller amount of space. It also gives them an authentic look at the same time, making it chaos for the eyes, decreasing readability.

Loose leading is easy on the eyes, ensuring pleasurable reading experience. Whereas, too much line spacing also makes it difficult to read sometimes, as the eye will take a longer time to travel. Leading should always be measured in terms of font being used.

What is negative leading in typography?

Tight Leading is also termed as negative leading. It happens when the point size chosen for leading is less than the point size of the type of the font selected. For example, if the type size is 22, any chosen size less than 22 will be considered as negative leading. In some cases, the lines can overlap with each other as well.

How much leading shall you use?

Various parameters impact the question, how much leading is enough?

The type of context- If the interface is for sole reading purpose, and there aren’t huge chunks of information to convey, then tight leading can be helpful. In such scenarios, the eyes do not have to travel a larger distance to read the next line of the text.


The chosen typeface- A lot is dependant on the typeface you are choosing. Fonts like Helvetica, where the x-height is more require more significant leading, to ensure that the eye follows the path.

The size of the typeface- We follow a calculation of 1.68*font size as a reference point for choosing the leading. Like, if the font size is 14, the leading would-be 14*1.68 = 23.52. It is good to use something around 22 and 24.

Leading-Background Color

The background-color – If you chose a dark color as the background-color, it gets difficult for the eye to read, so more significant leading is preferred in such cases.
You would have figured out till now that how tweaking with the text on the screen can provide you with a clean and readable interface.

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