Leading Typography

The definition of leading is: the distance between two baselines of lines of type. The word ‘leading’ originates from the strips of lead hand-typesetters used to use to space out lines of text evenly. The word leading has stuck, but essentially it’s a typographer’s term for line spacing.

If you’re working in design software like InDesign, the program will set a default leading value whenever you type up more than one line of text. However, this is not usually generous enough, and can make paragraphs look squashed. This works fine if you’re creating a crammed front page for a newspaper, but less well for most other purposes.

Increasing the leading allows the text to breathe and makes it appear instantly more attractive. For readers it has practical advantages too—increasing leading makes text easier to read, and it’s also kinder on reader’s eyes over longer periods of reading.

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