Typography 101

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For marketing and advertising purposes, creative projects often need to use some sort of a message that cannot always be conveyed with imagery alone. Typography is one of the most important tools for graphic designers. Projects and designs including textual content depend on the typographical treatment for successful visual communication.  A thorough understanding of type classifications and their histories and the characteristics of letterforms, and the terms and tools used to manipulate the look and placement of type is essential for graphic designers. Combining typefaces, incorporating hand lettering, and honing a sense of hierarchy and composition are all methods for more developing more sophisticated typography.

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Typeface or Font??

A typeface is the design of the letterforms.
A font is the delivery mechanism.

Digitally, the typeface is the visual design. A typeface may be produced as different fonts from different font foundries. The fonts are the digital files of the typeface.

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Type Classifications

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Humanist or Old Style

The roman typefaces of the 15th and 16th centuries emulated classical calligraphy.

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Transitional

These typefaces have sharper serifs and a more vertical axis than humanist letters. Their sharp forms and high contrast are noticeably distinct from humanist letters.

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Modern

The typefaces are radically abstract from other serifs. Note the thing, straight serifs, vertical axis, and sharp contrast from thick to thin strokes.

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Egyptian or Slab Serif

Numerous bold and decorative typefaces were introduced in the 19th century for use in advertising. These typefaces have heavy, slablike serifs.

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Humanist Sans Serif

Sans-serifs became popular in the 20th century. Gills Sans, has humanistic characteristics such as lilthing counter in certain letters, and calligraphic variations in line weight.

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Transitional Sans Serif

Such as Helvetica, a widely use typeface. Its uniform, upright character makes it similar to transitional serif letters.

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Geometric Sans Serif

Geometric sans serifs are built around geometric forms. Such as Futura, with Os which are perfect circles, and the peaks of the A and M are sharp triangles.

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Type Family/Superfamilies

Type families are organized sets of matching roman and italic typefaces, usually of varying weight. Superfamilies also include additional variations in weight, widths, and sometimes even serif and sans-serif versions.

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 Mixing Typefaces

When mixing typefaces look more for contrast rather than harmony. When typefaces are of the same family, avoid using ones that are too close in weight, it makes the choice seem more unintentional. When using different typefaces in one line, try to make the size, but when different typefaces are used on different lines, a big contrast in size can work well.

When choosing different typefaces, you can use different categories such as sans-serif, serif, script, slab, etc to achieve good contrast.

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Hierarchy:

Typographic hierarchy helps readers navigate content easily and enhances the readability of the written word. Typography elements include the way paragraphs and broken up and the way certain information is emphasized with scale, color, spacing, and placement. Hierarchy expresses the organization of content, emphasizing some elements and subordinating others.

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Text

“Text” is defined as an ongoing sequence of words, distinct from shorter headlines or captions. The main block of of text is called the “body.” “Running text” refers to text that can flow from page to page or to another column. The design of text should be cohesive, and treated differently than images and callouts around it.

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Logotype:

A logotypes uses typography or lettering to depict the name or initials of an organization in a memorable way. Whereas some trademarks consist of an abstract symbol or a pictorial icon, a logotype uses words and letters to create a distinctive visual image.

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Lettering

Creating type by hand is called lettering. It allows designers to integrate imagery with text in a cohesive way. Lettering can still be based off of designed typefaces or all with an artist’s style.

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Font Licensing

Most digital fonts are limited by the use by a EULA (end user license agreement). Fonts are protected software. Violations include copying a digital font to share with other people, friends, clients, etc. It is also illegal to edit the file of a font file/software itself and saving it under a new name for distribution. Many free fonts are ok to share and alter, but some have been redistributed without permission and some are not properly designed.

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