Monday, March 12, 2007

Final Thoughts

The goal of this project was to learn about how typography plays a role in visual communication. I focused on typography in publications such as newspapers, magazines, books, and advertisements, but I was also concerned with typography in graphic design. I wanted to give some overall basic information about typography such as common terms and popular families of type. I also focused on how typography can convey certain moods or emotions, and how that can play into forming a message. I found most of my information in books, as opposed to journals or on the Web. I used graphic design books, and many books about typography. Some gave information about type families, some about type contrasts, and others about people who used typography for different purposes. I learned that typography plays a great role in shaping the message, be it in a newspaper, an ad, or a logo. Typography doesn’t have to be just text; it can also be an art.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Creative typography

I've covered many categories of typography but really typography is all around us everyday. There is typography on street signs, on bus stops, and on billboards. Typography can be bland, and it can be extremely creative.

Type, in any creative project, should be chosen to maximize readability. Readability refers to the ease of reading a printed page. "Readability involves design of the total visual entity, the complex interrelationships among type, symbols, photos, and illustrations" (Berryman 28). Type should also help reinforce the message being conveyed. “The type should reflect the tone, attitude, and personality of the communication. In a word, the type should be appropriate to the audience, message, client, medium, and image” (Ryan and Conover 110). In her book Better Type, Betty Binns puts these ideas together: "The ultimate goal is to have readable type that is also beautiful and expressive" (9).

An effective typographic message will stop the audience. This is the goal of headlines in newspapers, magazines, book covers, and advertisements. The type chosen is important, as is the placement. Ryan refers to type as both an art and a science. It is an art because designers use type, artwork, space, and color to “create and shape their masterpieces” (Ryan and Conover 110). It is a science because there are lessons learned about line length, style, point size, and type choice. A good layout will combine art with science to create a visually exciting piece.

Type can have a variety of meanings, as seen with this image:

Type can also be used to create visual puns.

Here is another visual pun created with this poster:

“Clever use of visual rhetoric creates high impact direct mail pieces for this gardening company…The imagery and arrangement of white type on the green background reflects the gardening activities that correspond to the season” (Walton 113).

This movie poster shows the way type acts in accord with art. The use of color brings a sense of unity to each poster.

These three movie posters created for a “modern day Western” show different solutions to one brief. The three images employ Western iconography: slab serif typeface, bullet holes, splashes of blood, and faded photographs (Walton 41).

For chat and discussion all about typography, click here.

Image source 1,2: March, Marion. Creative Typography. Cincinnati: North Light Books, 1988.
Image source 3,4: Walton, Roger, ed. Big Type. New York: HBI, 2002.

Friday, March 2, 2007

More Web typography

Using contrast between different styles of type on a Web page and between other elements such as headlines and the surrounding white space, will aid legibility. Also, establishing organized patterns will make the page more visually appealing and will keep the reader interested in looking at the page. “The regular, repeating patterns established through carefully organized pages of text and graphics help the reader to establish the location and organization of your information and increase legibility” (Lynch and Horton).

Margins and white space exist to help define the main reading area and the surrounding environment. They also provide visual relief when looking at a Web page. It is sometimes difficult to read Web pages not only because of the low resolution but also because the line length is often too long. A long line of text may make readers strain their eyes or lose their place when going to the next line. To account for this problem a Web designer can use invisible tables (border = “0”) to limit the line length to about 50 to 70 characters.

In terms of line spacing, to account for the longer lines of text and poor resolution, it is a good idea to add extra leading in between lines. For text that is 12-point font, implement leading of 14 or 16 points. For paragraph breaks, more common than indenting is leaving an empty line of space between paragraphs. This helps scanning a block of text and adds a visual rest to the reading. If a designer is using CSS, he can set the blank space using the “text indent” property of paragraphs.

Image source: Lynch and Horton. Web Style Guide: Typography. 5 Mar 2004. 16 Feb 2007.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Typography on the Web

The principles for typography on the printed page are similar to those on the Web. However, there are some key differences. On the Web, the resolution of the typeface is much lower than that of magazines, books, and even newspapers. While the resolution of magazines is 1200 dots per inch (dpi) or higher, the computer screen usually outputs resolution at 85 dpi. Also, there is less space available on the computer screen (before scrolling) than there is on a printed page. One of the biggest differences is the Web’s variability. Each line of text is rendered by the Web browser, Web server, and the operating system of the user. One page could look different to users because of these variables.

Scientists created HTML in order to share particle physics documents with each other (Lynch and Horton). Because of this, graphic design and typography were left out of the equation. “In focusing solely on the structural logic of documents they ignored the need for the visual logic of sophisticated graphic design and typography” (Lynch and Horton). Most Web designers do not even use the standard headline sizes in HTML because they are either too large or too small. The idea behind making different sized headlines was to clearly present the information, but the design suffered because of it. Cascading style sheets (CSS) is one way to bring together information and design. Using style sheets, one can control the style of headers, text, paragraphs, and other page elements. Another benefit of CSS is the ability to control the design of thousands of pages by adjusting the settings on one master style sheet document. Also, CSS provides greater typographic control using less code. If you’re a Web designer who isn’t using CSS, now is a good time to learn. Click here for more information about typography on the web.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Book jacket typography

There are many forms of type involved in a book, but the most creative kind is on the jacket. Louise Fili was art director at Pantheon Books for 11 years starting in the late 1970s during which time she designed hundreds of book jackets. (See the Web site for Pantheon Books here.) One interesting thing about Fili is that she believes there is only one typeface that is right for every jacket. She has used faces from the early part of the 20th century and come up with creative uses for them. She is also a collector of antique faces, many of which she found at European flea markets and used book shops (Aldrich-Ruenzel 72). She finds much of her inspiration from European poster design of the 1930s and early ‘40s.

Fili was interested in calligraphy since she was very young. She eventually became a designer and then an art director. When she’s designing the cover for a fiction book, she’ll usually read the whole thing and for non-fiction, she’ll usually read a synopsis and first couple chapters. She does this to get an idea about the message and tone of the book. “I don’t want to use a typeface that anybody can use. I feel I have to go a step further to make it unique and, of course, appropriate to the subject matter, which is also something that is very important to me” (Aldrich-Ruenzel 73).

In her super old typefaces in her collection, sometimes the whole alphabet does not exist or there are letters missing. In those cases, she has someone hand draw the rest of the letters. She emphasizes good communication with illustrators, designers, and letterers in order to have a successful project. “With art direction, it’s a communication game and there is always something that gets lost along the way” (Aldrich-Ruenzel 74).

Image source: Aldrich-Ruenzel, Nancy, and John Fennell. Designer's Guide to Typography. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1991.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Magazine typography

"Good magazines use lots of type--to tell their stories, to create attractive pages, to aid the reading process--and to help sell more copies" ("Fonts" 30).

In magazine design, much like in newspaper design, there is a style guide, or a stylebook. It is this that addresses all typographic elements of the magazine including text, captions, pull quotes, headlines, bylines, and so forth. In Graphic Communications Today by William Ryan and Theodore Conover, it states, “the physical appearance of the magazine should reflect the editorial content and appeal to the audience for which it is intended” (482). This is a good summary of the function of magazines and how typography, as part of the visual makeup, plays a part in the message.

There are two types of situations regarding typographic headers. One is that there is a consistent family used throughout the magazine for all headlines and titles, and the other is to vary the typography depending on the feeling, attitude or image the designer wishes to convey. Time, U.S. News and World Report, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated have set type for which they use for headers. Rolling Stone, Seventeen and National Geographic vary their feature heads to accommodate preference.

“A magazine’s success is closely tied to the ability of its producers to isolate the target audience and create a product that will appeal to that audience. Thoughtful, appropriate design can help ensure that goal” (Ryan and Conover 482-3). A sports magazine should be hard-hitting with bright colors and action shots, while a business magazine should be more subdued and professional looking. Typography on the cover and inside pages plays a major role in creating the visual feeling of a particular magazine.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Advertising typography

"One of the first things graphic designers learn is the power of type. They are taught how to use type to attract a reader's attention, present information in a pleasing and effective manner, help the reader understand information, and to rank data in order of significance. Graphic designers take advantage of large typeface libraries to help them do their job" ("Fonts" 30).

Ad veteran Gene Federico is one of the most successful art directors for advertising. He says that’s it’s important to try something unexpected when dealing with typography in an ad. However, the type shouldn’t be overemphasized or isolated as to break from the message. When designing an ad, he wants to create a visual identity for his clients, and integrating typography is one way to do that.

Two important elements of typography in an ad are rhythm of the line breaks and “sound tones” of a typeface. The line breaks of type help aid the understanding of the message. Many times designers will break lines just for the visual aspect but this is dangerous in terms of comprehension of the idea. “I read the copy until I learn where to break the line properly,” Federico says. “If I find it doesn’t work well visually, maybe I will go to another type that is more condensed” (Aldrich-Ruenzel 58). The “sound tones” refer to the personality a typeface conveys. You want to choose a typeface that fits the meaning and tone of the message. He says that one of his favorite faces, Bodoni, can be elegant or strong, depending on the size.

Just as line breaks are important to comprehension, so is placement of type. Federico thinks that the use of stacking type and centering it can actually hamper readability. He believes that one's eye would get tired of reading centered type a few lines down. Newspapers are flush left for a reason: because it’s easier to read that way. In terms of using a computer, he thinks that it is a helpful tool, but it won’t help visually communicate a message—a designer has to do that.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

More newspaper typography

A basic design decision for a newspaper is whether the paper should be tabloid or broadsheet. The broadsheet usually has a six-column format but five-columns are popular too. Many major newspapers such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Oregonian are all broadsheet. Tabloids are half the size of broadsheets and are usually divided into five or four columns. A tabloid is closer in size to a magazine and has elements of magazine design, such as huge photos and headlines. Some examples of tabloid newspapers include the Philadelphia Daily News, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Rocky Mountain News.

The most important part of the paper is the top half of the front page, which is above the fold. That is the part that is seen in newspaper boxes and many times is the deciding factor as to whether or not a person will buy the paper. The designer has to deal with multiple design elements: the flag, which is the name of the paper, the headlines, the art (photos, graphics, illustrations) and the text. Consistency of typographic elements like captions, decks, and headlines, is very important to the overall design of the newspaper. Many newspapers set up a certain style guide for the newspaper designer to follow. This would include the sizes and styles of headlines spanning various numbers of columns. For instance, a headline spanning three columns may run two lines deep and be set in 36 point, depending on where it is on the page. Less important stories will be shorter and have smaller typefaces. A basic rule is to stay away from having “butting heads,” when two headlines run into each other. Some piece of art should separate headlines on the same horizontal line (Labuz 107). The designer should also be aware of the poor print quality of newspapers. Halftones should be 85-dot screens, and illustrations should have bold lines.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Newspaper typography

"A few well-chosen typefaces can breath new life into a paper; and, in the process, help create informative and inviting pages" ("Fonts" 30).

There are many choices available to the newspaper designer regarding typography. I will discuss five sections of typography in newspapers: text, headlines, standard type, info graphics and nameplates.

Text: The majority of all body text in newspapers is serif type, with most papers using one of four or five basic faces. Research has shown that it takes slightly longer to read sans serif type, and serif type is more visually pleasing to the eye as it has a horizontal flow. A heavy typeface should be used in order to contrast the black text with the gray paper. Hairline elements of a typeface should be avoided because the print quality of newspapers is low and parts of letters could disappear if they’re too faint. The face should be a bit narrower than regular type in order to save space.

Headlines: Headline type is the most dominant typographic element on the page. Headlines should be chosen to reflect the overall personality of the paper. Both serif and sans serif type are used for headlines. However, serif faces are seen to be more expressive and less impersonal (Aldrich-Ruenzel 79). “For the best legibility, headlines should have a tight leading to correspond to correct word-and letterspacing” (Aldrich-Ruenzel 80). There should be a little white space on either side of a headline in order to give the page some breathing room.

Standard: Standard typography is used to announce regular features or daily columns. It aids readers by showing them where certain stories are as they glance through the paper. A good choice for standard typography would be a sans serif face to contrast with serif text. Sometimes standard typography is set apart with a different style (bold, italic, caps) or in reverse type (white letters on a dark background).

Info graphics: The point of a graphic is to quickly help the reader understand something in as few words as possible. Many times there is unnecessary type added onto info graphics. Often all that is needed is a headline and a short summary, and this is usually done in a sans serif typeface. When a lot of text is necessary, it’s a good idea to break it up into manageable modules.

Nameplate: Most newspapers are identified by their nameplates. When people look at a newspaper, the first thing they see is the nameplate. First used in England and then in America, the most popular nameplate is in Old English style. Many newspapers today still have this style. Examples of newspapers that use this style include The Register-Guard, The Oregonian, and The New York Times.

Click here for a blog about newspaper design.

Image source:

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Corporate identity

The principles of typography in corporate graphics and signage are consistent with other uses in graphic design. Logotypes may be composed of type, or from altered or newly drawn letterforms. Logotypes are marks which consist of pronounceable words, such as "Coca Cola," "Ford," or "Exxon." "They make excellent identity devices because they are related to visual and phonic codes with which we are familiar, unlike abstract symbols" (Berryman 16). It's important to note how the logotype sounds and how the letters relate to one another. One challenge is to maintain a balance between visual creativity and legibility. Logotypes that are highly unique may be difficult to read and therefore lose value, as do very clear and boring logotypes with no visual appeal.

Alan Peckolick, a New York-based designer, believes that abstract symbols are overused in corporate identity and that it’s time to go with type and image. He believes the all-type Coca Cola logo is the most effective because it’s so easily recognizable. “The graphics and the type that I put into a logo should help solidify the message both on an intellectual and an emotional level,” says Peckolick (Aldrich-Ruenzel 46). He wants people to be able to relate to corporate identities. Peckolick likes to either create an original letterform, or change an existing one. He thinks this gives attitude and flavor, not to mention a personal touch.

For one logo Peckolick created for a soft drink bottle, he drew inspiration from neon signs of 1950s diners. The labels on the soft drink bottles are die cut aluminum, which reflects that signage. He drew the letters by hand and the different colors of the background circle reflect different flavors. Another logo he created that’s used by New York University is based on Times Roman. The letters are tightly kerned, which makes it a symbol rather than a word. The letters are all small caps, with the first letter of New, York, and University being upper caps. He chose this style because it creates a beautiful shape (Aldrich-Ruenzel 47).

Image source 1:
Image source 2: Aldrich-Ruenzel, Nancy, and John Fennell. Designer's Guide to Typography. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1991.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Industies that use type

Books: Book design is the oldest form of typography, and it continues to be a strong force in the typographic world. Ten billion dollars are spent on book publishing annually. In the book, there is typography involved with the jacket, the inside text, and the illustrations and graphics. The type on the jacket of the book establishes the mood. This is usually the most creative part of the book and this typography should reflect the message and content of the inside pages. The body text is usually chosen to be most legible, which is usually a serif face like Times Roman. Type accompanying illustrative material should allow people to understand it immediately--nothing too ornate or decorative. “Book typography, then, must be emotive, legible, and informative as the situation demands” (Labuz 11). Books can use traditional or revolutionary typography.

Newspapers: Newspaper designers lay out the page and use various typefaces for headlines, subheads, summary decks, cutlines, and body text. The newspaper designer is responsible for the overall appearance of the paper. Where should the photos go and how big should they be? How thick will the rules be? What should be bold? What should be sans serif? There are certainly limitations on creativity, though. Type sizes, typefaces, and other considerations are usually predetermined by a certain style guide. Newspaper designers should also be aware of the poor print quality of the news page so very small photos and graphics end up being lost.

Magazines: The typography of magazines is similar to that of newspapers, only magazine designers are allowed more creative freedom. Body text is usually consistent, but the headlines can be much more elaborate and decorative than newspaper headlines. Another typographic element in magazines is the banner on the cover. It’s important to make this big and easily identifiable. A publication that has a recognizable banner is Time magazine. It’s so commonly known that many times a photo or illustration covers part of the banner but people still are able to tell what magazine it is.

Advertising: Typography in ads is used to sell. An important job of an advertisement is to be able to catch someone’s attention. This is why display type is so important. There can be great visuals in an ad, but it doesn’t work unless there’s type. The decision as to what type to use and how to style it is of utmost importance. “Novelty and creativity are the bywords of the advertising typographer” (Labuz 14).

Click here for a slide show about how typography is used in these industries.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

History of typography

Before the printing press, scribes wrote out books. Around 1450, Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type. His first mass-produced book was the Gutenberg Bible of 1454. The process of letterpress printing was that a punch made of steel with a mirror image of the letter was struck into a piece of softer metal. Molten metal was poured into this and became type. The type was put into a matrix to form the page of text, was inked, and then was pressed into paper. This process stayed constant for centuries (Woodward). Within decades of the invention of letterpress printing, this technology spread all across Europe, with over a thousand printers setting up in over two hundred cities. Printing was the first mass medium and allowed for the spread of ideas like never before.

In the late 1800s the Industrial Revolution brought about innovations in printing technology. Rotary steam presses took the place of hand-operated ones and photoengraving took over for handmade printing plates. Line-casting helped speed up typesetting and was a labor-saver. This allowed type to be chosen, used, then recirculated back into the machine. This device made metal type obsolete. In 1892, the majority of type foundries in the US merged into a single company called American Type Founders, making it the dominant American type foundry (Woodward).

In the 1980s, PostScript became the standard for digital typesetting. This was due to its inclusion in the Apple Laserwriter printer and ability to handle graphics. Some present-day printing requires printing to film, and making printing plates from film. However, high-resolution printers are making these printing presses unnecessary.

Monday, February 19, 2007

More contrast in type

Contrast of color: It is important to note that the first printed publication, the Gutenberg Bible, had a rectangular space at the beginning of each chapter for the insertion of a hand drawn colored initial (Dair 69). This tradition of contrasting color has carried over from the handmade book to the machine-made publication. The use of a second color in commercial printing and advertising can be very effective in conveying a particular message (Dair 70). Colors fall into two broad categories: cold and warm. The cold colors are more blues and greens and the warm colors are more reds and yellows. The warmer colors bring more attention to them than the cooler ones. While only a small dab of a warmer color is necessary to capture the eye, a lot of a cooler color is necessary to be effective.

Contrast of direction: The sense of balance is thrown off by slanted lines of type, but there can be a focal point between two horizontal and vertical intersecting typographic units (Dair 74). Horizontal patterns can be attained by adding extra leading in between lines and vertical patterns can be created by making the column narrower and justifying it right or left. There can be contrast by adding a horizontal heading to the vertical column of text, or by inserting a vertical column between two more horizontal ones. “Whenever there is a dominant vertical or horizontal element in any given rectangular area, either dimension, width or height, can be accentuated through the use of opposition in direction” (Dair 76).

Contrast of texture: Typographical texture is the repetition of certain characteristics that make up individual letters of a type face (Dair 77). Textual contrasts involve the contrasts of weight and structure. The structure determines the kind of texture and the weight determines the coarseness. A line of sans serif may be “hard and dispassionate” while a line of thick-thin serifs could be “soft and friendly” (Dair 77). The leading and tracking also play a great role in the texture of lines of type. A mass of text that has a lot of leading looks more like lines than a pattern, and a line that has loose tracking emphasizes the vertical letter rather than the horizontal unity of a tight line.

Image source 1: Aldrich-Ruenzel, Nancy and John Fennell, eds. Designer's Guide to Typography. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 1991.

Image source 2,3,4: Dair, Carl. Design with Type. New York: University of Toronto Press, 1967.

Sunday, February 18, 2007


Contrast of size: This is an important and widely used contrast. Contrast of size is used in many projects and can be used very effectively to draw attention. One general rule of thumb is to have the contrasting elements have about equal weight. For example, if there is one huge character, there may be a word or set of words that takes up a similar amount of space (Dair 55).

Contrast of weight: The weight of a character refers to the thickness of the lines that compose it. If the printed area is much less than the area surrounding it, the character is considered light. If the area of ink almost fills the area it occupies, it is considered heavy. It is common for one family to have weights ranging from extra light to ultra bold or black, making it unnecessary to go outside of the family to find contrast. It is also possible to contrast body text, headings, and white space. These elements all have different weight, and when balanced against one another, there can be a harmonious effect. One popular example of contrast in weight is making subheads bold. This alerts the reader as to what the section is about. Contrasting weight plays an important role in dividing up information.

Contrast of structure: The chief use of structural contrast is to emphasize a letter in a word, a particular word in a line of text, or a heading from the body. The contrast of structure is enhanced with the contrast of weight, size, or color. There are basically two structural groups: one includes sans serifs and square serifs with monotone lines, and the other includes roman, italic and script, which have variation in the stroke (Dair 62).

Image source 1,2,3: Dair, Carl. Design with Type. New York: University of Toronto Press, 1967.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Concord and contrast

There are two main ways to approach going about a typographic project: concord and contrast. There has to be a decision whether to have uniformity of appearance between typographical elements, or contrast between them. Concord is the blending of typographical elements to give a uniform impression. To achieve complete concord, the same type family must be used, the borders and decorative elements must match in tonal value, and the white space must be evenly balanced. As an example, if one used Bodoni as a typeface, since it has thick and thin lines, to achieve concord it would be necessary for other elements, like the border or illustrations, to also have thick and thin lines (Dair 50).

Contrast is the opposite of concord in that it is the unity of differences.

For contrast to be effective, it needs to be sharp. Subtle and meek differences between typefaces will result in conflict—something the typographer wants to stay away from. If you mix two typefaces from the same category, like Roman Old Style, the result will likely be that the faces are too different to have concord but too similar to have contrast. This result is unpleasing to the eye. If you use a directness and a concern for function, you have a good chance of achieving effective contrast (Berryman 28).

There are many elements through which one can achieve either concord or contrast. Some of those elements are size, weight, letter structure, form, color, texture and direction. When contrasting type, you are not limited to just changing one of these variables, but you can adjust multiple elements at the same time. For example, you can contrast weight, structure and form by having an upper case bold sans serif letter with a lowercase script. One common use of contrast that newspapers use is the contrast of size when the first initial letter of a story is enlarged. This is done to draw the reader into the story.

Image source:

Friday, February 16, 2007

Type moods

A type mood is the feeling associated with a type style. Using a particular typeface cannot change the meaning of the message, but it can enhance it (Wolfe 24). It’s important to choose a face that coordinates with the message being conveyed. "You can emphasize formality and authority, or you can emphasize wamth and friendliness. Or you can select an emotional value somewhere in between" (Rehe 56).

Trendy: This mood represents a popular look of contemporary times. Avant Garde is typeface that appears to be on the leading edge of fashion. The type is geometric and that makes it look new and fresh.

Nostalgic: Bodoni is a typeface that can be used to convey this mood. The nostalgic mood makes one think about type from the late 19th and early 20th century. Bodoni’s numerous styles and weights can be used to reflect the letterforms from that early period.

Traditional: A typeface that would make the reader feel comfortable is Bookman. This type style was designed as modern and is acceptable to use in any circumstance when the mood is traditional.

Aggressive: One face that would convey this mood is Helvetica Condensed. This mood is so forceful it demands a response from the reader. With this typeface, and with compressed and extra compressed versions, there is sense of truth implied in the style.

Friendly: The mood is comfortable, and one typeface to represent this mood is Optima. It is pleasing to read and creates a nice presence, no matter if you use lowercase, caps, or obliques.

Informative: This mood can be characterized by Times Roman. This mood conveys that the thing of primary importance is the presentation of information. Informative text is read in a straightforward way, and since Times Roman is a usual type for body text, it is a logical choice for this mood.

Here is an image where the typography reflects the mood or feeling.

Image source:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

More popular families

Helvetica is a common sans serif typeface. It has such a clean look it can be used in any typographic situation. It is based on other sans serif faces from the 19th century like News Gothic and Franklin Gothic. It is part of the 19th century grotesque sans serif group. The characters of Helvetica have a large x-height and short ascenders and descenders. For this reason it is necessary to have large amounts of vertical space between lines of text. “The elegant shapes of the compressed letters give an aggressive straightforward look to a message” (Wolfe 14). Helvetica condensed and compressed are great for both text and headlines on industrial brochures, logos, and exhibit art. "Use bold weights for strong, forceful headlines, and medium and light weights for practically any application you want" ("ABC's" 67).

Optima is a sans serif typeface although it is formed based on the classic roman letter. It should be considered an elegant serifless roman. Instead of a serif, the end of each stroke has a flair and cupped terminal. Some of the letters are very wide so it is sometimes necessary to add extra tracking to words. Optima “brings a friendly presence to any printed piece” (Wolfe 16). It’s not advised to use Optima as a body text since there are no serifs, and it should not be grouped with other sans serif faces with calligraphic flair. However, Optima is perfect for short blocks of copy and benefits greatly from generous line spacing ("ABC's" 79). Use Optima for community service brochures, announcements, advertising and corporate promotional literature (Wolfe 17).

Times Roman is a serif typeface that is commonly used in large quantities of text. It’s based on Old Dutch Style characteristics and was designed to be reproduced in the London Times. The heavy thin strokes on each character were used to accommodate coarse newsprint paper, and the characters are slightly thin to increase character count. Times Roman mixes well with many other faces but for contrast try using a heavy sans serif like Helvetica Black. “Use Times Roman with the confidence that its informative character will function in almost any application” (Wolfe 21). Times Roman can be combined with almost any sans serif face and many serif faces as well. Mixing Times Roman with similar faces like Plantin, Janson, Caslon and Baskerville should be avoided ("ABC's" 94).

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Popular families

It’s important to give some information about popular typefaces. Avant Garde is a sans serif typeface that has a smooth look. The vertical and diagonal lines of letters are not the same weight and the circular lines have variations too. “Avant Garde is a trendy typeface that will produce a contemporary look in product logos, trade show displays and advertising graphics” (Wolfe 4).

Bodoni type is a serif style that reflects eighteenth century art engraving during the Industrial Revolution. The italic styles are reminiscent of pen and ink letters with thin strokes and hairline serifs. The most obvious design characteristics are the fine hairlines, thick stems, and vertical weight stress ("ABC's" 33). Bodoni has a small x-height and must be set large enough to read. The bold and black styles are larger and must be used with more leading. Bodoni is a romantic typeface and shouldn’t be used with a great amount of text. “This is definitely a specialized typeface for nostalgic advertising, fashion and brochures and posters” (Wolfe 7).

Bookman is a serif type designed after old style roman type. The light type style works well for body text and the medium style is good for headlines and subheads. The serifs sometimes overlap one another and that makes for comfortable horizontal reading. The x-height is very large and the descenders and ascenders are very short, making it necessary to give large leading. Bookman is good for the text of periodicals and booklets. To contrast Bookman, mix it with a nongeometric sans serif face such as Helvetica. Use this typeface “where the idea is contemporary and the mood is traditional” (Wolfe 8). This typeface gives a traditional look to brochures, advertising, and in-house reports.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More helpful hints

It is important to match the weight of the typeface with the voice of the message. Weight is the darkness of a typeface and it usually comes in extra light, light, normal, demi-bold, semi-bold, bold, ultra-bold, or black. Generally, the more popular a typeface is, the more weights it will have. Most body copy is normal, as that weight is the most legible. When creating headline, titles, or other display type, it is common to use bolder weights. These bring more attention and give a louder voice. Using bold type is more effective for emphasis than using italics, but it should be used in moderation.

One can also affect the message by changing the type style. This refers to “one of a number of structural deviations within the letterform of a specific family of type” (Ryan 99). Many typefaces have styles of normal, book, condensed and italic. Book is similar to normal, but it is smaller and takes up less horizontal space, thus for large publications, it will save money to use the book style. Condensed is narrower and smaller than book and is used with information graphics, insets, and diagrams because in those cases there is little room available for text.

It is a good idea to keep the same family of type throughout a project because it is the simplist and least jarring. However, if one wants to vary typefaces, it is good to choose those that contrast highly with each other. If there were a serif body text, it would be a advisable to have a bold sans serif headline. One should stay away from mixing typefaces that closely resemble each other. Doing so creates confusion and is not pleasing aesthetically. It is also a good idea to limit type in a project to two or three faces (Ryan 100).

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Helpful hints

It is important to know how and when to use type appropriately. Consider first the typeface. Is it display type or text? Display type is usually larger and is used for headlines, summaries and subheads. It is given more emphasis in order to stand out from the text. The text is the body of the reading material and is usually set between 8-12 point size. Use larger font if there is a small x-height (Century), and use a smaller font if there is a large x-height (Helvetica).It also depends on what message you are trying to get across. If it is a one-day ad for a car company some bold sans serif type may be appropriate, but if it is a wedding invitation, a script or cursive type would work better. For the body text, most publications use a serif typeface. The thick and thin lines are easier to read and cause less eye fatigue, and the serifs make a connection between the letters of the words (Ryan 88). Roman typefaces (with serifs) tend to be more traditional, personal and trusted, while sans serif type is cooler and contemporary.

The size of the type is important too. For very young and old audiences, it is important to make sure the type is large enough. For reverse type, (white type on dark background) it is a good idea to make it larger and usually in sans serif to help with legibility.

There are a number of other factors that make text more readable. It’s important to find the correct leading. If the leading has the same point size as the type it’s called solid leading and can be difficult to read if the letters are stacked too closely together. A good rule of thumb is to add one or two points to the size of the type to arrive at the leading size. When the line of text is longer, it’s necessary to have larger leading. Lines of text should not be shorter than the length of one alphabet of lowercase letters in that point size, and no longer than two alphabets together (Ryan 93).

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

More basics of typography

Fonts are measured in points, the smallest unit of printing measurement. There are 12 points to a pica, and six picas to an inch, so there are 72 points to an inch. Measuring font size actually comes from measuring the height of the wooden slug, which held the letter. These slugs came in various point sizes—9,10, 12, 14, 18, 24, 30, 36, 48, 60, 72—and those same sizes are common today. There are some common terms when dealing with point size. The x-height is the height of a lowercase letter (such as the x), the ascender is part of the letter that extends above the body of type (like the h) and the descender is the part of the letter that extends below the body of type (such as the g). Type height is measured from the bottom of a descender to the top of an ascender (Harrower 20). While these measurements stated above are absolute, there are also relative measurements, which means they vary from font to font. Examples of relative measurements are em spaces, en spaces, and thin spaces. An em space is a space equal in width to the size of the font, an en space is half an em, and a thin space is a quarter of an em. For example, in 12-point type, an em space is 12 points, an en space is 6 points, and a thin space is 3 points (Binns 14).

The vertical space between lines of type is called leading. It gets this name because way back when type was set by hand, printers added strips of lead below the wooden blocks with letters to add space between lines of type. More specifically, leading is the space from the baseline of one line of text to another. If you add more space between the lines you are loosening the leading, and if you decrease space you are tightening. The horizontal space between letters in a block of text is called tracking. Sometimes this word is confused with kerning, which is the reduction of space between two letters. Loose tracking would be adding space between letters and tight tracking would reduce space (Harrower 21). Click here for more on these terms.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Introduction to typography

In his book The Elements of Typographic Style, Robert Bringhurst introduces the creating of typography as an art: “The typographer's one essential task is to interpret and communicate the text. Its tone, its tempo, its logical structure, its physical size, all determine the possibilities of its typographic form. The typographer is to the text as the theatrical director to the script, or the musician to the score" (20). In the book Graphic Communications Today, William Ryan writes about typography: “The craft of typography is about making the complex clear and the uncomplicated interesting, all with an apparent effortlessness that is democratic in its presentation” (70). It's typography that brings all the elements of a graphic presentation together, as Robin Landa states in Thinking Creatively: New Ways to Unlock Your Visual Imagination. "One advantage of visual communication--graphic design, illustration and advertising--is that it combines visuals with words to convey a message. The two together relay a message greater than either one could do alone. Some designers call it synergy. Some simply call it good design" (42). These quotes show how typography is important and how it serves a valuable purpose in society.

In this first post I will give some introduction to typography.

For hundreds of years, type was set by hand. Compositors, or typesetters, picked out single characters and laid them out in galleys, one row at a time. Over the years, printers started using machines to set type. In the 1960s phototypesetters used film to print characters and now computers make typesetting quick and easy (Harrower 18).

There are thousands of types but there are some basic characteristics of each one. Years ago, type foundries would cast each typeface in a number of different sizes. The word to describe each size of type is called a font. Many fonts of one typeface make up a family, many of which include varying weights (lightface, regular, boldface) and styles (roman, italic, condensed). Most type families can be classified as being serif, having characters with tiny strokes at the tips, or sans serif, having characters without those strokes (Harrower 19). A common example of a serif type is Times Roman, and an example of a sans serif type is Futura. The red circles indicate the serifs.

Two styles of type, cursive and novelty, fall outside the classification of serif or sans serif. Cursive type looks like handwritten script, sometimes with the letters connecting and sometimes not. Novelty type is more dramatic and colorful. It can work well in small doses, like in headlines or ads, but it can be overused quickly. Here are three examples of novelty type.

To become well-versed in typography, it is important to learn to look all around you to see various examples of typography. "We should train ourselves to look at every form of graphic display, be it in stores, on billboards, in newspapers, magazines or books, and make a conscious and critical assessment of what we see" (March 12). It is also a good idea to travel with a pencil and paper to make note of what you see that interesting.

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