This session will concentrate on the fundamentals of typography, and particularly on how typographic form and visual arrangement create and support a message. The class lecture will include an introduction to basic letter forms and typefaces, typographic terminology, and a brief history and theoretical overview of type. The project below shows letter forms found by Rhett Dashwood. He has created an entire alphabet composed of “letters” he found via Google Maps of Australia’s southeastern province of Victoria.
- The art or process of printing with type.
- The work of setting and arranging types and of printing from them
- The general character or appearance of printed matter.
A typeface refers to a group of characters, such as letters, numbers, and punctuation that share a common design or style. Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica and Courier are all typefaces. There are over 300,000 typefaces. My agency actively works with about 200 faces. I love this game: Cheese or Font.
Fonts refer to the means by which typefaces are displayed or presented. Graphic designers choose typefaces for their projects but use fonts to create the finished art. Typefaces are selected. Fonts can be purchased at type foundries. Veer is a personal favorite for font purchasing.
Character is the symbol representing an individual letter, numeral or punctuation mark. The capital letters are called caps, or uppercase (u.c.). Small letters are called lowercase characters (l.c.) Numbers are called numerals or figures. The actual shape or design of a letter form is called a glyphs. There may be more than one glyph for a single character, such as a superscript version.
Type Families The different options available within a font make up a type family. Many fonts are at a minimum available in roman, bold and italic. Other families are much larger, such as Helvetica, which is available in options such Condensed Bold, Condensed Black, UltraLight, UltraLight Italic, Light, Light Italic, Regular, etc. The univers font comes in a large family of over 30 options. Example of Helvetica type family
Classifications of type: There are several different classifications of type but I prefer the standard four
- Serif (variations include old style, transitional, slab serif, modern)
- San serif – typically uniform in stroke width.
- Script – which mimic handwriting or calligraphy
- Decorative or ornamental – which are generally not appropriate for body text but used for impact
The language of typography and seven classic typefaces
Here is an excellent interview with typeface designer Jonathan Hoefler, type designer and president of Hoefler & Frere-Jones and Steven Heller, co-chair of the MFA Designer as Author program at the School of Visual Arts and author of the VISUALS column for the New York Times Book Review, will explain how typefaces are created and why typography is important to communication and design.
If you have time, I encourage you to watch the movie Helvetica. The trailer is here.
Choosing the right typeface can be challenging. Consider the unique characteristics of the face and the goal of the piece the font will be used for. Some fonts carry baggage from over use such as the much-maligned comic sans.
The recent creation of Clearview Hwt is a good example of the big impact that subtle changes in letter form can have on readability.
Blogs and Websites
Thinking with Type
Designing with Type
15 Tips to Choose Good Text Type
How to Make a Font
NPR The Leonard Lopate Show, Please Explain: Typography
NY Times: The Art of the Word
Cheese or Font?
Assignment: Set your name in 6 different typefaces including at least 2 serifs and 2 sanserif faces. Take the unique characteristics of the typeface in terms of letterform, weight, texture and spacing as it relates to the uniqueness of your name into account. Put each example on its own slide with a final slide that shows all 6 examples. For the second part of the assignment, create at least 3 expressive words. Each word should be its own slide. Here are some excellent examples of expressive words.