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.

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