MOKUJI—collection of
notes by Zac Fukuda

How to Highlight Texts

Nov 13, 2015

In digital age, it is not just designers who should be proficient at making documents, but also everyone in business. Whether it is a presentation for a new projects, sales report, or email to customers, the basic principle of graphic design is benficial to everyone.

This aricle teaches the different ways of how to highlight your texts with basic knowledge of design in order to make your audiences definitely look at it. All methods I'll show is neither something new nor special, you might have already used these techniques without knowing that it is a graphic design.

LargeYou don't need any explanation for this. The bigger the texts are, the more important they are. So if there is one thing that you want everyone to remember, make it bigger.

Bold This is also very obvious to everybody but you should never forget beginners' mind. Even though the first word "Bold" in this paragraph is set same size as the other texts, with a little space it represents as heading. Usually this method is used inside sentence.

Color People prefer using red generally so I chose to use it here. When you add color on texts, it is crucial to make a contrast to your normal text. Blue is a little bit similar to black, thus it is not so recommended unless your corporate color is blue. Green is said to be brighter than red and blue, hence it would be absorbed into background white. Moreover, psychologically it represents "OK", which leads to that it can not convey the importance as much as red does.

Negative You may not use this technique in your business documents, however, in Keynote or Powerpoint it is very useful. There are some times when you want to add a background pictures on keynotes along with texts, but those texts would be not recognizable. In such situation you want to use this technique.

Underline You might have underlined the text you want to refer later when you are reading. The same theory could be applied to business as well. Usually underlines are used as a title of section or of list in formal documents. On the web, it would be confused as links so it is better to avoid using it (yes, links are very imortant).

Capitalization In The Laws of Simplicity, John maeda, graphic designer whom I respect, tells us how his daughters send him messages in all caps. It sounds redicurous, however, "I love you!" has much more meaning when typed "I love you!". After all, no one haven't seen the sign saying "caution!" before.

Typeface In most of magazinse or newspapers, they use different typefaces for headings and body texts. Each typeface is designed for different purpose, so what you would do is to chose a typeface which is designed to be headings. Usually typefaces for heading are narrow and have small letter space. Since sans serif typefaces are occured in need of advertisement, they are more likely to suit for important texts than serif typefaces. The example I show here is a bad one.

Italic In books this idicates specific nouns. Maybe it is not a matter of importance to make it italic, but a matter of distinguishing from other texts.


As you scroll down the page, you might have got your eyes on the text above in spite of it is niether bigger nor bold. Margin is prefered by designers, for them it is good opportuity to show their skill by optimizing the use of empty space.


Sometimes, perhaps all the time, using only one technique above is not good enough to highlight texts to distinguish from the other texts. So combine two or three techniques simultaneously, for instance capitalization, bold, and italic. And make sure that equally important sentences must be highlighted in the same way.

To apply these techniques requires you to consider what is important and what is not first. Before put yours hands on your keyboard, write down the things you want to represent, and prioritize. In such a way you can get full out of graphic design.