Vocab Lesson 17: Display Type

If you've read through our 2011 Student Competition rules, then you've come across the term display type. But in order for our instructions to make sense, we thought it might help if we clarify just what display type is...
As the word "display" indicates, display type is all those attention-getting words on the page such as the hed, dek, pullquotes, subheads, caption and any other text that isn't body copy. These elements are bolder and more eye-catching that the running text in order to encourage viewers to read the story or to at least glean a little info from these items even if they don't read the story.

As author Jan White states in Editing By Design, the display type is "what makes the publication magnetic and pulls them [the page flipper] in. ... It gets them excited about the what's-in-it-for-me, how-does-it-affect-my-life implications." You want your display type to "be so irresistible that they feel they would be missing something if they didn't read it now."

Of course, the words themselves have to say something interesting, and that's usually up to the editor/writer (although many designers and art directors find themselves writing display type from time to time), but it's your job as the designer to make sure their smart, engaging words are attractive and eye-catching.

Source and recommended reading: Editing By Design by Jan V. White, pages 9-11.
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