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.