DESIGN TIPS

TYPOGRAPHY

DEFINITIONS

Typography is the art and technique of selecting and arranging type styles, point sizes, line lengths, line spacing, character spacing, and word spacing for typeset applications. Good typography is critical to the success of a graphic design project.

In pre-digital days, typeface meant all the sizes and variations (eg. normal, bold or italic) of a single style of type. Font referred to one set of letters, numbers, and other characters in a single point size and variation (eg. Helvetica 12pt. italic.) Nowadays, typeface and font are used interchangably.

Type is measured in height in terms of points. A point is 1/72 inch. Standard text height for reading is 12 point. However, "12-point" may vary slightly in height from one font to the next.

Leading is the distance between the bottom of one line of type and the bottom of the line below.

More typography definitions can be found in our glossary...

TYPOGRAPHY TIPS

  • Avoid using more than two fonts in one design, or four variations of the same font. Restraining the number of fonts results in a more polished and harmonious design.
  • If you emphasize everything, you emphasize nothing. Prioritize the information and give each element emphasis according to its relative importance.
  • Avoid distorting type horizontally or vertically - it can end up looking shoddy to a viewer. Rather, select a condensed (narrower) or extended (wider) version of the font.
  • Leading greatly affects readability, and should be generous in large blocks of text. The wider a line of text is, the further down the next line should be (increased leading,) to make it easier for a reader's eyes to jump down to the next line without getting lost.
  • Reserve fancy or cartoony fonts (known as display fonts) for headlines. For blocks of text or other smaller items, select simpler fonts.

RELATED LINKS
The subject of typography is so important, and so well covered elsewhere, we are providing you with additional relevant and interesting links:

A Brief History of Type - from RedSun.com
Page Layout - from RedSun.com
Choosing a Typeface - from RedSun.com
CounterSpace - a website dedicated to typography and its history
WhatTheFont - Upload a scanned image of the font and they'll show you the closest matches in their database (from MyFonts.com)