Expressive Typography 1
Typography exists to honor content. — Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style
Typography (from the Greek words typos = form and grapho = write) is the art and technique of selecting and arranging type styles, point sizes, line lengths, line leading, character spacing, and word spacing for typeset applications. These applications can be physical or digital.
TYPOGRAPHY is the balance and interplay of letterforms on the page, a verbal and visual equation that helps the reader understand the form and absorb the substance of the page content. Typography plays a dual role as both verbal and visual communication. As readers scan a page they are subconsciously aware of both functions: first they survey the overall graphic patterns of the page, then they parse the language, or read. Good typography establishes a visual hierarchy for rendering prose on the page by providing visual punctuation and graphic accents that help readers understand relations between prose and pictures, headlines and subordinate blocks of text.
A designer learns that the shapes of letters are expressive far beyond their basic use as sound symbols. Beyond verbal and written language, designers learn to use individual and groups of letter as expressive imagery – a visual language.
A design student must spend an extraordinary amount of time revisiting the individual letters of the alphabet in order to heighten sensitivity to their shapes and learn how to use letters as imagery. A successful and creative designer intimately knows every curve, angle, and stroke of letters, along with being well versed in the use of several (at least five) classic faces. Without meaningful study of type, a designer is a primitive.
Graphic designers are not only concerned with the graphic aesthetics of individual letters, but with groups of letters (words), lines of type, inter-
letter spacing, and inter-line spacing. Also, designers must be concerned with legibility, readability, expressiveness, spirit, style, classics an trends, appropriateness, and, of course, the graphic principals of unity, hierarchy, balance, alignment, and rhythm.
The more you’re aware of the shapes of letters and the shapes letters create interacting with each other and the page, the more creative your designs will become.
Expressive Typography 2
Choosing & Using Type “When pictures and words pull in opposite directions and the poor reader doesn’t get any message at all, he simply turns the page.” -John Newcomb
Type. In your lifetime you’ve seen billions of letters and millions of words, yet you might never have consciously noticed the typefaces you read.
Type is important because it’s an unconscious persuader. It attracts attention, sets the style and tone of a document, colors how readers interpret the words, and defines the feeling of the page--usually without the reader recognizing a particular typeface.
TYPE IS YOUR PERSONALITY ON PAPER. Change your typeface and you go from casual to formal, silly to serious, staid to stylish, old fashioned to modern.
TYPE IS IMAGE. You’d dress your best if you were going to an important meeting, and your documents need to be well dressed, too. Type can reinforce your image as a company or an individual. If you use it consistently enough, people will start to associate you with certain typefaces. They might find themselves thinking of you when they see that typeface, without knowing why.
TYPE IS POWER. Type has an effect on you even if you don’t consciously notice it. You can use this power to your advantage to attract attention, strengthen your message, and improve your image, or you can overlook it and work against yourself saying one message with your text while conveying another with your font.
TYPE IS COMMUNICATION. Communication means relaying information about our logic and emotions to others. The better you learn to communicate, the better others will know you, and the better you’ll know yourself because logic, emotion, and about 98-percent water are what you’re made of.
TYPE IS IMPORTANT. The right typeface can encourage people to read your message. The wrong typeface or bad typography can make your message go unread.
THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBERThere are entire books about using type (I’ve written several). People spend their whole lives studying the practice. But here’s what it’s all about:
ONE Type is on the page to serve the text. It should make the words easy to read and provide a suitable background. Type should not overpower the text.
TWO There are no good and bad typefaces; there are appropriate and inappropriate typefaces. Think about your reader and the feeling you want to convey, and then choose a typeface that fits.
SIMPLISTIC? MAYBE SO. But if everyone followed these two rules, you would have read more things in your life, and understood better what you did read.
Expressive Typography 3
What’s Appropriate? If your business is one that needs to be taken seriously, such as banking, don’t choose a whimsical typeface such as University Roman or you’ll lose credibility. If you have a fun business, such as a party service, don’t use a serious typeface such as Helvetica or you’ll come across as boring. With that in mind, we get to the key to choosing the best typeface for the job: finding the most appropriate typeface. Not the prettiest, not the most space-efficient, but the most appropriate.
Helpful online tool to help you choose the right front for the job visit:http://www.will-harris.com/esperfonto/.
Try to break it down into two choices: organic or inorganic. After reading the phrases ask yourself, who are you talking to and who is doing the talking? Further ask yourselves questions about the origin, personality, and mood of the speaker, and if that is appropriate to the subject matter and the audience. After so many years of practicing this method, the actual process itself becomes almost involuntary and the designer will almost instantly arrive at the solution rather than fretting over it.To establish the discipline, and get ourselves into practice we must consider the following questions:
ORGANIC OR INORGANIC Is the subject or message an organic (living, human) voice, or is it an inorganic (mechanized, mechanical) voice. Hard-edged subjects, or those which relate to non-human characteristics perhaps would be better portrayed with a uniform, hard-edged face such as a sans-serif. If the subject or message speaks in an organic (human) tone, perhaps a serif face would be better.
HARD OR SOFT What is the emotion of the message?What are you trying to get across? Certainly you wouldn’t use the same voice to tell someone about baby lotions as you might use to declare a hazard warning. Is there an urgency to the message? Is it angry, sad, happy, soothing, tired, bewildered? What?
WHO IS TALKING TO WHOM Put a voice to your message. I sometimes find it helpful to dream up a spokesman for the message. Would it be James Earl Jones? Barbara Walters? Walter Cronkite? Arnold Swartzenagger? Listen to voices. What typefaces do they suggest?
WHERE OR WHEN History, place, setting, atmosphere and environment all speak voices -- voices that are visually inherent in typefaces. If it’s a little old, soft and human, perhaps an Art Nouveau face is appropriate. If it’s far away, and exotic, perhaps an Asian style face will fit. You cansend messages very quickly and effectively just by thinking place and time. Is it uptown and avant-garde, or is it down-home and salt-of-the-earth?
POSTURE AND ATTITUDE If a face hasn’t suggested itself to you yet, perhaps its posture will. Is it running fast? Is it slumping? Is it standing erect at attention? Is it sensually reclined? Yes, there are faces that reflect posture as well. Sometimes the ‘set’ of the type suggests posture... italics are moving, or speaking to the side. All caps seem stiff and erect -- many times traditional and dignified. Just like body language, the posture and attitude of the message can suggest the perfect face for the job.
Expressive Typography 4
Typefaces for Feeling Here’s the same text for a hotel set in different typefaces-notice what different feelings are conveyed, just by using different typefaces.
Anatomy of a Typeface
BASELINE: the imaginary line upon where type rests
X-HEIGHT: the main part of the lower case which is equal to the height of the lowercase ‘x’
ASENDER: the part of the letter form of the lower case which rises above the x-height as in ‘b’, ‘d’, ‘f ’, ‘h’, ‘k’ or ‘l’
DESENDER: the part of the letter ‘g’, ‘j’, ‘p’, ‘q’ and ‘y’ that extends below the baseline
CAP HEIGHT: height of the capital letter. The ascenders of some lowercase actually rises sometimes a little bit above the cap height.
TYPE SIZE: refers to the overall depth of the typeface and is measured from the top of the highest character to the foot of the lowest.
SERIF: a short stroke that projects from the ends of the character. The serifs help to keep letters a certain distance apart, they link letters together to form word that helps reading and finally they help to differenciate individual letters.
STROKE OR STEM: vertical or oblique part of a letter. It can be more or less thick or t