The term typography refers to the design and use of typefaces in calligraphy or digital typing to deliver visual communication. Typography is an art and practice that is used by type designers and graphic designers to create letter forms and arrange specific typefaces on a page, respectively. Designers and typographers, who are passionate about typography, often compare it to fashion or furniture, in the sense that people want to stand out or fit with a certain look, or evoke a particular emotion. While it is not common to create true innovations, people are able to produce variations on the existing themes, or merge different elements in new ways to satisfy this need; whether in fashion, furniture or type design. From this perspective, typefaces can be thought of as a form of art that can be used to fulfil both functional and aesthetic purposes. This implies that they can be appealing to look at while serving a functional purpose like being legible on print media or on a screen.
Graphic designers, including web designers, employ the art and practice of typography to ensure that the interaction between users and text relays the intended message accurately. It is for this reason that designers need to understand how to control the appearance, style and placement of text. While some people use the terms ‘font’ and ‘typeface’ interchangeably, they mean different things. The term ‘typeface’ is used in reference to the character design of an alphabet, like in the unique shape and form that distinguishes between letter forms f and h. It is the set of number, letter forms and symbols that are harmonized by a common visual design. The term ‘font’ refers to the digital system file, which is a complete set of type in terms of size, weight and typeface that is used to set text in print design. Typefaces are used in reference to families or sets of fonts.
The variety of typefaces, as well as the multiple ways that typefaces can be set within a design gives them the ability to enhance or modify the meaning of those very words. As such, the style used to form and present the letters changes how the ideas that are been portrayed are perceived. Your choice of typography affects visual design, eye fatigue, legibility and accessibility.In web design, typography plays a vital role since the combination of a beautifully designed website with ugly text cannot achieve its full potential. The text should be styled in a manner that complements the overall design of the website. The choice of details such as font families, colours and sizes should match the colours and images of the website. Another consideration in visual design is the use of an appropriate tone on the website. If the website is professional, then your text should bring out a serious vibe that cannot be achieved by using a brightly coloured childish font. Conversely, a light-hearted tone site should not use dull fonts in solemn colours.
Another importance of proper typography is in eliminating or reducing eye fatigue in both printed and screen text. Reading digital content on a screen is often more tiring than reading a hard copy of the same content. As such, one should pay attention to how the content is formatted on the screen in order to make it more pleasant and less fatiguing to readers, especially if they are potential consumers of a product. Closely related to eye fatigue is legibility of the content. Designers should always ensure that the pieces of text are easy to recognize and read. Legibility of content is mostly influenced by font family, font size, contrast between font colour and background colour, and the spacing between letters, words and lines.
Choosing the correct typefaces in your publication clarifies the message and establishes the right environment for the reader to understand the content more easily. Different typefaces can be harmonized to help in directing a reader to the main idea or important information and make the content interesting. As such, designers can opt to use multiple typefaces set different moods and invoke different implications for the reader. The general rule for designers is to use two or three typefaces in a single publication, but each can have multiple fonts for italic, bold, thin, thick or condensed versions.
In recognition of the importance of typography in today’s design, here at the Design club we have launched a section dedicated to typography; where we feature typography artists and their amazing works. Read more about Typography Tuesdays here!