Typography Tips

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How do I use type as an element of design?

The Element of Type

I've added type as an element in graphic design, since it helps delineate graphic art from fine art. As content, it creates a shape or a visual element Type creates mood and can dictate the appropriateness of the design to the idea. Beware of being TOO appropriate - type can also be overdone, a cliché. For example:

small or this: Big

How do I find out what a serif typeface is?


Times, or Times New Roman, is the most commonly used typeface in web design for body copy. It's not as effective for headings or subheads as a sans-serif. Use this serif type in blocks, breaking the paragraphs with the paragraph tag.

How do I adjust my type?


The space between letters is affected by "kerning." A good rule of thumb is to pretend you're pouring an equal amount of water between letters. If one letter is too close and another is too far away, you can adjust the letters to appear to flow easier on the page with kerning.

What typeface is better for content?

Serif or Sans-serif?

To be with a do-hickey or to be smooth and round? Serif type is best for copy; sans serif is best for headlines and sub-heads. This is fairly standard practice for newspapers and magazines, where content-heavy design is the emphasis.

If you design a listing label for packaging, use a sans-serif typeface. The listing can be treated as "signage" and will be easier to read if kept simple.

How can I convey a message with a typeface?


When you see the word "soft" what do you visualize? Blue? Puffy clouds? Babies? Cheese?!? (that one came from my roommate, who is not a visual person!). You can help convey an idea by manipulating typefaces. Try using a bold stencil typeface with a granite background for the word "soft." Shake up the viewer's preconceived notions for attention to the product or service in your projects.

How do I find out about Arial type?

Arial, my Arial

The Arial typeface is a san-serif typeface. This typeface is also one of the most used sans-serif in web design. A very high percent - if not all - browsers support this face. Use it (or another supported san-serif) in headings and subheadings, and use a serif in your body. It will be easier to read.

How do I make my message stand out?

Give Your Words a Voice

The printed word loses a whole range of expression in comparison to the spoken word. To give a voice to your printed word, use size, weight and positioning of letters. Give the words a personality. If you use the phrase, "Frankly m'dear, I don't give a damn," how would you show this phrase on a web screen or a poster? What color would you use? What face and size? Would you use a background image? Your blank screen or paper is the stage, and your letters are the actors. Go for it.

How do I find out about categories of type?

Categories of Type

Type is typically divided into four categories: serif, sans serif, display and script. Type is either timeless or trendy. Consider mixing no more than two categories of type unless you want to achieve a mood of confusion.

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Jerry Mayo