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March 28, 2022 • 5 minutes read

Typography 101 : Everything you need to know!

Whether or not you are a designer, you are always intentionally or unintentionally subjected to the world of typography. If we tell you to look around in a 1-mile radius and grab a product or two, you will realize type is all around us! A great example of how typography leaves an everlasting impression on people is the iconic Coca Cola logo, you can spot the beautifully cursive font anywhere you go and associate it directly with the brand that can also evoke the feeling of thirst in some people, all of that just because of the excellent typography. Digital interfaces all around the globe are loaded with visuals and written words. Not going to lie, Type design is still intimidating to many designers. Recently we had an interaction with an impeccable designer who let us in on his big secret that after all his years of experience, he still gets jitters when it comes to type design. Honestly, Typography is a key element of design and can make or break it. Being subject matter experts in the realm of design, we oftentimes notice that design-centric companies overlook the importance of typography without realizing that it is the key factor in gluing your brand together.

So, what really is Typography?

Typography, in layman’s language, is the art of arranging text and letters in a way that makes the copy legible and attractive to the reader. Do not be confused, the world of typography is filled with jargons that may confuse you if you are just testing the waters. It is an amalgamation of design as well as arrangement of the letters. Eg: Line length, spacing, point size, etc!

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You must have read about Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press in your schooling days. Well, that was the time when typography was learned through printing materials in real physical places. Nowadays it is different though, In the digital space, creating typography is super feasible.

Why is Typography important?

The importance of typography in this world of cutthroat competition is indispensable. From making it easy for people to glide their eyes through a series of words to building a strong brand identity that evokes emotion, Typography is truly a blessing in the world of design. Brands that use awesome type elements can help the user take the action that they want to with regards to their branding and sales. Few examples of brands that leverage this are – Cadbury, H&M, Pampers, Budweiser, Ford, etc. There were some brands that changed the typography in their logos to make them more legible to customers. If you are a fashion enthusiast, we are sure you may have noticed how Yves Saint Laurent changed their logo to a very simple, basic font. Similarly, eBay, Pinterest, and Airbnb adopted the same approach. You may have never thought of how this minuscule change would bring about such a trivial impact on these brands but they certainly do. That is the power of typography! Every font, letter, and arrangement plays a pivotal role in how your branding is conveyed to your audience.

  1. Convey the “correct” messaging
  2. Design is all about visually perceiving things. Typography is a key element wherein we can elevate the influence of the messaging in a clear-cut way. Every brand needs typography to stand out - For brands that follow a minimalist approach, it is very important to have strong typography to compliment the imagery. For brands that follow a maximalist approach, it is important to differentiate elements through typography in order to not create chaos as it is quite possible with that approach.

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  3. Enhance awareness and recognition
  4. As we mentioned above, a lot of brands have such strong typography that you can make out what brand it is just at a glance. Coca-Cola, Google, and Louis Vuitton are some great examples. The kind of typeface you use can dictate how your audience feels toward your brand.

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  5. Influence
  6. A lot of brands leverage this quality of typography to create an everlasting impact on their audience. Sometimes to achieve this effect, brands indulge in an approach wherein no visual is required and only strong typography is used to evoke emotions.

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  7. Stand out
  8. Typography is a known way to help put something important into the spotlight. This helps highlight important messages that make your design stand out. If you are an amateur designer, we suggest fiddling around with the size, color, or font to help your design strikeout.

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  9. Build Hierarchy
  10. The best way to use typography is to build a visual hierarchy. The largest elements are placed on the header; this way the attention is drawn directly to the most important information which further engages the reader to go on to the subhead and then finally to the copy. That is the reason all publications and packaging use this format. Another way to build hierarchy is through a combination of typefaces. Eg: Sans Serif for Headers and Classic Serif for body copy.

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Mind-Boggling facts about Typography!!
  1. Helvetica can help with dyslexia.
  2. People associate some fonts with stability. Example: Times New Roman, Arial, and Cambria.
  3. Johannes Gutenburg printed the first bible in the Textura font.
  4. The creator of the Doves font threw it into the Thames River to keep it from his business partner.
  5. IKEA has only ever changed its font once.
  6. Lower-case lettering is better for road signs.
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Key Elements of Typography

Typography is not just an amalgamation of philosophies used by designers, rather they are comprehensive techniques to help brands present their ideas to their audience in the best way possible. To have strong typography, designers have to make the most of every word used. The idea, however, remains as is. We as designers always assume that if an idea is communicated nicely, the typography must be solid. Typography has a broad terminology that much to our surprise is still uncharted territory for a lot of designers out there. Do not worry! We are here to give you complete knowledge of the diverse world of Typography!

  1. Convey the “correct” messaging
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    A typeface, as you can see in the above picture is a specific style of lettering and punctuation that encompass a common design. With every typeface, you get a family of fonts that each have their distinctive thickness, size, and charm. The typeface however remains the core design element of the letter work.

  3. Fonts
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    A font, in simple terms, is a subset of a typeface created by molding the typeface. The molding can be done by increasing the thickness, style, or size. Example: Helvetica is a Typeface and Helvetica Regular, Helvetica Light, Helvetica Bold, etc are fonts (members of a typeface).

  5. Type Size
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    The type height of a character is centered around the x-height or the void between the baseline and the median line. You will notice that parts of lettering above the x-height are called ascenders and the letters that go below the baseline are descenders. The entire typeface is measured as point size.

  7. Tracking
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    Tracking refers to uniformly increasing or decreasing the horizontal spacing between a range of characters. It is generally used to adjust and give a more cohesive feel to the overall letter spacing. Tracking can make the copy more legible and attractive. It should however be done in a very cautious way as too much tracking can lead to difficulty in reading.

  9. Alignment
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    Alignment as you can see from the image above elucidates the process of arranging the copy to the page. There are primarily four types of alignments – Center, Left, Right and Justified. According to your design needs, you can go ahead and pick what works best for you. Left and Justified are the two most popular alignments in the design world and if you closely observe, you may be able to notice this on product packaging, news articles, emails, etc.

  11. Kerning
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    Kerning is the spacing between individual letters or characters. Unlike tracking, kerning is solely focused on how the type looks and its legibility. Use tracking to design a cohesive design of identical or similar shaped text and kerning to create beautiful-looking letterforms.

3 Categories of Type

There are majorly three bifurcations of Typefaces a font may be under – serif, sans serif, and decorative typefaces.

  1. Serif
  2. Serif is a decorative stroke that extends to the end of a letterform. Do not be confused, not all serifs are the same. You will always notice little variations in serif types and that is the beauty of this Type! These are usually used in lengthy texts like books or newspapers. A few common serif typefaces are Times New Roman, Georgia, Caslon, etc.

  3. Sans-serif
  4. Sans-serif does not have extended features (serifs) at the ends of strokes. These are oftentimes used to convey a modern feel and follow a rather minimalist approach. Ever since the emergence of the digital era, Sans-serif fonts have gained immense popularity. A few commonly used sans-serif typefaces are Helvetica, Arial, Gill Sans, etc.

  5. Decorative
  6. Majorly used for catchy headlines, Decorative fonts lack legibility. Although they are ideal for catching attention and looking ethereal, it is unlikely that your reader has so much time to decipher what the font is trying to convey. As designers, we are always tempted to use designer typefaces as it adds somewhat of a fun element to the design but the risk associated with the viewer not understanding it makes us take a step back. A few examples of decorative typefaces are Stencil, Rosewood, Magneto, Coolector, etc.

Conclusion:

There’s no shortcut to learning typography. We at Apric always say – Practice makes a man perfect! If you want to one-up your design game, delve into the world of typography and see it beautifully reflect on your design. If you want to begin, we encourage you to try pairing 2 typefaces together and finding a common ground where it looks cohesive and aesthetically pleasing – this way you will realize that the possibilities to create exquisite designs are endless. If you have any further doubts or questions about Typography, do not hesitate to contact us at coffee@apric.in and we will be sure to clear all your doubts. Till then, be on the lookout for our upcoming blog. Trust us, you will love it! Ciao! ☺

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