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Around the mid-2000s, I was riding the LA Metro trains a few times a week across town to my workplace. I had plenty of time to observe the neighborhoods I passed, the type of people who rode the train, and to study the advertising campaign LA Metro was using.

The campaign had great consistency: an image area, a short paragraph, the logo, the website, all in predictable places in a poster-size layout. The copy was brief, personable and funny, which is welcoming and unusual to see from a transportation company.

Unfortunately, I never took a photo of any of the numerous posters I saw. Here is one that shows the format, though I don’t remember seeing it:

Source: This article from TheCityFix.

An online search for samples of the posters brought up another attention-getting transportation campaign: the award-winning video for Metro Trains Melbourne in Australia called “Dumb Ways to Die.” Watch:

Find out with this online test, part of a linguistics research project that compares English language native speaker learning rates with English language learner rates.

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When I review final copy that has been poured into a design, i.e., when I’m looking at something in the layout stage, I don’t just reread the text. I look at the spacing around and within the text too. Is the text being cut off? Is the text readable?

At this point, the designer may have played with some of the copy, especially the headline, which can become a graphical element within the design. The designer has leeway and may even forgo some punctuation marks. As long as the text is readable and the message isn’t lost, this is fine and interesting to see.

Kerning is especially important (where there are no special effects applied). I may not know how to perfect kerning, but I notice and will point out where it seems too tight or too open, making words and sentences unreadable and slowing the reader down. I’ve come to believe that if there are no such kerning (or leading and awkward line break) problems, it is one mark of a good designer or production artist.

Experiment with kerning yourself with this online game called Kern Type.

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