The Fundamentals of Typography

Exploring The Art and Techniques of Typography
The Fundamentals of Typography Design

Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed and is critically important to the work of graphic designers, content writers and content marketing professionals. The choices related to the layout, color themes and typeface will decide the difference between a good and poor design. 

Few (if any) forms of artistic expression are as widely seen and as seldom noted as the letterforms and typefaces we encounter in our everyday life.   

It’s All About The Font

If you’re new to graphic design, you’ve probably wondered what the difference is between “typeface” and “font.” A Font is a specific set of typographic characters that are designed to work together. Fonts are also referred to as Typefaces

Font Choices and Typefaces

The large font in the image above is set in the following typefaces (from top to bottom) Helvetica Light, Helvetica Bold, and Brush Script MT Italic. Individual fonts are often part of Font Families that contain variations of that font- regular, bold, italic, bold italic, and others.  The most common typefaces include Arial and Helvetica. The most common fonts include Courier, Calibri, Verdana, Tahoma and Times New Roman. All typefaces come in different sizes. The height of every individual character is called x-height. 

Serif vs Sans Serif

Notice the little embellishments at the end of lines outlined in blue in the image below

Serif and Sans Serif Font

Serif stands for stroke or line and Sans means “without” in French.  Serif fonts have that extra stroke or decorative design on the end of letters. Whereas Sans-Serif doesn’t have any such design or stroke. Sans-serif fonts tend to have less stroke width variation than serif fonts.

They are often used to convey simplicity and modernity or minimalism.   The majority of font families fall into the categories of either Serif or Sans Serif.  Deciding which one is better depends on one’s choice or particular project and it’s requirements.

You can use Serif fonts for Logo Design or creating a Website banner or you can use Sans Serif fonts for designing magazine and newspaper. It’s totally up to you.

White Space

White space isn’t literally an empty space, it’s a powerful graphic design tool that refers to the empty space around objects or typography.

The Fundamentals of Using White Space

When used correctly, White Space creates a pleasing visual experience and can even draw attention to text. The application of white space is both art and science. Maintaining an optimum level of white space in the design composition and creating a balance will only come by experience and practice.

Don’t Forget about Hierarchy!

Typography Hierarchy Example

A Hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being “above”, “below”, or “at the same level as” one another. Hierarchy is an important concept in a wide variety of fields, such as philosophy, mathematics, computer science, organizational theory, systems theory, and the social sciences. Understanding the main role hierarchy plays in typography will help keep your ideas organized, so that viewers can always identify which category of information they are reading.

As Graphic Designers, we all have much to gain by taking note of the visual language that the great typographers have used to make language visual.

Combining Different Fonts

Typography Poster Design

When it comes to Combining Different Fonts (like with people) opposites tend to attract: “introverted” and “extroverted” fonts balance each other nicely when combined. When pairing fonts together, most graphic designers usually pick a typeface with similar x-height. On the other hand, the set width refers to the area of the body of the letter and the buffering space that follows. The most popular way to measure type is called the point system. One point equals 1/72 of an inch and 12 points equal one pica.

Typography Resources

Connecticut Typography Poster

If you’re interested in learning more about Typography, here are a few interesting resources related to type and hierarchy.

Fonts by Hoefler and Company

Type study: Typographic Hierarchy

Creating Exciting And Unusual Visual Hierarchies

Infographics by Belltown Graphics

Useful Tips for Working With Infographics

Adding Infographics to your website can be one of the most effective strategies in an overall digital marketing campaign. Ideally, an infographic should be visually engaging, and contain a subject matter that is compelling to your target audience.

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“Typography must often draw attention to itself before it will be read. Yet in order to be read, it must relinquish the attention it has drawn.” 

Robert Bringhurst