Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed. The arrangement of type involves selecting typefaces, point size, line length, line-spacing (leading), letter-spacing (tracking), and adjusting the space within letters pairs (kerning). The term typography is also applied to the style, arrangement, and appearance of the letters, numbers, and symbols created by the process. Type design is a closely related craft, sometimes considered part of typography; most typographers do not design typefaces, and some type designers do not consider themselves typographers. Typography also may be used as a decorative device, unrelated to communication of information.
There are many facets to the expressive use of typography, and with those come many different techniques to help with visual aid and the graphic design. Spacing and kerning, size-specific spacing, x-height and vertical proportions, character variation, width, weight, and contrast, are several techniques that are necessary to be taken into consideration when thinking about the appropriateness of specific typefaces or creating them. When placing two or more differing and/or contrasting fonts together, these techniques come into play for organizational strategies and demanding attractive qualities. For example, if the bulk of a title has a more unfamiliar or unusual font, simpler sans-serif fonts will help compliment the title while attracting more attention to the piece as a whole.
In typesetting, color is the overall density of the ink on the page, determined mainly by the typeface, but also by the word spacing, leading, and depth of the margins. Text layout, tone, or color of the set text, and the interplay of text with the white space of the page in combination with other graphic elements impart a “feel” or “resonance” to the subject matter. With printed media, typographers also are concerned with binding margins, paper selection, and printing methods when determining the correct color of the page.
Elements of Good Typography
- Consistency – in any typographical work the consistent use of typefaces, kerning, leading, bullets and formatting is critical. Consistency makes the work look professional and keeps your readers focused on the content and not the formatting.
- Hierarchy – it is important that your text gets read in the order that it’s meant to be read in. Take a book for consideration; the title is the first thing a reader sees, then the author’s name, followed by the chapters and then the story. Hierarchy intentionally guides the reader through the content. Often with best selling authors, their name will appear larger or the same size as the title of the book. This is because the designer is aware the author has an existing fan base that will be interested in the book regardless of the title and will most likely pick it up for that very reason.
- Alignment – Alignment helps keep the look of a piece unified. A flush left or flush right alignment gives the piece a stronger edge line for the viewer’s eye to follow. It also tends to give a more sophisticated look than a centered alignment, which is often the choice of typography novices.
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