Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable and appealing when displayed.
Typography is an art form in itself. Words are around us everywhere we look. Somebody has designed the way that text looks, the typeface, alignments, colours, spacing and so on. Typography is important in order to convey a message. The message is not only contained within the words, but the way those words are presented. In the same way that colour does, a typeface can evoke an emotional response.
A message can be friendly
A message can be aggressive
A message can be traditional
A message can be modern
A message can be feminine
A message can be masculine
It is the designers responsibility to choose the correct typeface to best present the message. Good typographic design should go unnoticed.
Good typographic layouts should work together and flow. They should be balanced in size, shape and weight. Everything should be in proportion and fit together.
There are several basic forms in typography. These are determined by certain characteristics of the typeface. A few examples are shown below.
Serif fonts are more traditional fonts and are identified by the short lines, or finishing strokes at the line ends. The angles, thickness and widths can vary and they be small.
Examples of Serif Fonts:
• Times New Roman
• Palatino Linotype
Sans-Serif fonts have a more modern feel to them. As the name suggests these fonts are without the serif lines.
Examples of Sans-Serif Fonts
The diagram below highlights the difference between serif and sans-serif-fonts.
Script fronts are based on handwriting or cursive script. These are primarily decorative fonts where each letter is attached. They can be tricky to use effectively due to the large swashes, or flourishes.
The weight of a font is specified by how thick the lines making up the letters are. They can be light, thin, regular, medium, bold, heavy and black.
There are generally three styles used in typography. These are italic, oblique and small caps. Italics and Obliques are often confused and thought of as the same thing. They are not. Obliques are slanted versions of the regular characters. Italics are slanted, but they are entirely unique font character sets with their own unique properties.
All fonts and typefaces have unique characteristics. The combination of characteristics determines how well the fonts work with each other, or if they clash.
The most important characteristics are :
In typography, fonts are measured in points. A point is a tiny fraction of an inch. In one inch there are 6 picas. Each pica is made from 12 points, so there are 72 points in an inch. A font set at 72 points will measure one inch when printed.
Combining type is an important concept. Font combinations should compliment each other and work in harmony. Using too many fonts creates a confusing mess and visual blur. Sometimes its best to choose a typeface with lots of different variations, but when you need to choose different typefaces follow these tips:
Contrast and Mood are two important concepts as well.
Contrast relies on combining typefaces based on weight is a strait forward way of creating typographic contrast. The role of weight plays an important role in determining contrast.
based largely on weight
is a straight-forward way
of creating typographic contrast
If you are just using one typeface, then multiple weights will work very well to provide contrast and emphasis.
Multiple weights of a
single typeface will also
The final method is style and decoration. Generally this is regular or italic fonts. You can also mix in weights as well.
You can create contrast
within a typeface by
using different styles
Mood is vital to the way typefaces combine. Mood can be anything from formal to casual, fun to serious, modern to classic or anything in between. This can be a minefield as some fonts have different properties which can clash despite having different or similar heights and spacings.
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