Week 3—NatGeo—Typography &Language

The purposely-made typographic palette empowers the words, merging the visual aesthetics and the ideas sublimation. Let’s take a sneak peek at National Geographic’s design templates of the tablet edition-see how the effective storytelling works on its digital platform.

Typographic Guideline

Text pages:

For the Heds and Deks, NatGeo is using the serif type font, Chronicle.

Chroniclephoto 2  photo 5


The body copy is Minion Pro | 20 pixels (with 25 px leading).

Minion Pro photo 3

Images pages:

The captions/ cutlines are Helvetica Neue Medium | 15 pixels (with 20 px leading) that guarantee readability even on mini iPads. Use the bold and italic style with restraint, and only for the purpose of emphasizing or differentiating specific content rather than confusing the audience.

Helvetica Neue Medium  photo 4  ng22

Font size:

Generally the smallest font size is 10 pixels, and is used for credits and sources (all caps). Other than the minimum font size is 13 pixels and is used mostly for various labels in graphics.

The permutation of above typefaces shows the beauty of simplicity. It brings the readability on the table, leading the audience to enjoy the user experiences. Though the function of zooming in and out  on the tablet, the legible display texts and annotations guide the audience to pay more attention on the big picture of the multimedia reporting package.


The language of a magazine shapes the brand’s personality, which aligns with the values and vision of the magazine. It embodies by the voice/ tone of the content, and should maintain consistency across the sections.

When we are talking about NatGeo, the keywords in our minds are humanistic concern, historical heritage, scientific discovery, technical innovation and cultural evolution. That sets tone of the narratives, which is empowered by the truths, facts, surveys, researches and other factual texts.

With regard to the word selection, NatGeo choose the impersonal phrasing rather than in a rhetoric way. This is partly because of the mission of NatGeo, which is to take people to the time and space they otherwise wouldn’t go. That means the content of NG is already amazing enough by the plain facts and statistics itself.

For the heds and deks, we can notice the ingenious phrasing that incorporates the hed within the dek, which is a general rule in NG’s article. Usually, the heds are within five words, and deks are within 20 words, either interest-provoking or summary the subject matter of the article.

Department names are quite straightforward. Pull quotes are rarely used. For bylines, credits and sources, there is no special phraseology, eg. “PHOTO: NAME, NAME. GRAPHIC: NAME. SOURCE: NAME.” or “BY NAME.” All caps, not in a complete sentence.

The captions and the cutlines are relatively longer than the other  magazines. It informs people the background and the situation behind the photography. One of the reasons is that the crossover pictures on NG deserve more details; otherwise the uncommon scenes might  make people confused.


In addition, the first-person narration builds up a connection between the storytellers and the readers. It gives readers a sense of meeting the author in person. The on-site observations and first-hand materials of the multimedia storytellers all over the world set its extraordinary content apart from others, deepening readers’ understanding and perception.

Take the “First City” as an example. The narratives, such as “Here is the story, in brief”, “when I met David Adeoti in spring 2014…” create the sense of intimacy. Besides, in the story of “First American”, it uses a string of plain but not academic questions to evoke the curiosity of people. All of these arrangement results in the purpose of reading friendly.

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