Saturday, 1 October 2016

My Useful Guide: Professional Typography

Whether it’s serif, sans serif, script or display. Modern, traditional or somewhere in between, typography is key for great design and impact. 

With thousands of fonts to pick from, what do you need to consider to get the most out of the typography you choose?

The basics
What is typography? Essentially it is the arrangement, style and appearance of letters and numbers known as type. Typography can set the theme or tone of a particular message and can help to enhance the overall layout and design. Using the correct size, colour, leading, tracking and hierarchy can make the difference between good design and bad. 

All fonts communicate
Each font has a visual personality. Strong, dramatic, edgy, traditional, playful. Whatever it might be, choosing the right font is crucial. Pretty script fonts generally come across as soft and flowery, great for wedding invites. For a sheet metal fabricator, using a script font might not be achieving the highest impact. Big, bold fonts are maybe better suited. Decide on your main message and find a font that emphasizes it.

Create a hierarchy
Hierarchy helps guide the viewers’ eye to the most important elements. It adds interest and creates focus. If the text is all the same, not only is it boring and uninspiring but also it’s easily ignored. Break up chunks of text into main titles, subtitles and body copy. 

Size isn’t the only way of creating prominence. Find two fonts that pair up nicely and use one for titles and use the other for the bulk of the text. Pull out quotes and create features or add a splash of colour.

Leading, kerning and tracking are great tools and separate the good from the bad in the typography world. For those who don’t know: Leading is the space between lines of text. Kerning is the space between individual characters and tracking deals with the spacing between whole groups of characters. If text is too close together it becomes difficult to read and unsightly. Good leading provides enough white space between lines without becoming disjointed. The same can be said for tracking. Too tight or spaced out and it’s impossible to read. 

Kerning can be the difference between reading the right words and the wrong words. Although funny there have been some unfortunate mistakes when it comes to kerning. Google ‘bad kerning examples’ and you will see what we mean! Letters can begin to merge and words change meaning. A good example would be the ‘r’ and the ‘n’ of kerning, too close and it looks like ‘keming’.

Implementing all three correctly can create balance and enhance the viewers reading experience.

Size is often overlooked, but should be carefully considered. Too small and it becomes too hard to read. Too big and it’s overbearing and unnecessary. 10pt is a great starting point for brochure and flyer body copy. Don’t be afraid to go big and bold and make a statement with titles or key words. Using text as a design element can get some interesting results and make for eye-catching marketing material.

If using colour make sure there is good contrast. For example, yellow on white is not a great choice and can make text very hard to read. At the other end of the scale is too much contrast; a tint of dark grey can often sit better than pure black on white. 

Implementing clean and clear text is vital if you are to get your message across. Think about your target audience and how easy it will be for them to read. Less is always more.

Web fonts
Something else to consider are the fonts you use on your website. Ensure all of your visitors get the same experience by using a web safe font. If the font you use isn’t installed on the visitors’ computer then it will be substituted with a common one. This can effect the style and layout of your site.