What is Typography?

Typography is the visual component of the written word. According to Wikipedia The word “typography” in English comes from the Greek roots τύπος typos = “impression” and -γραφία -graphia = “writing”. I have no idea if that’s true but it sounds good to me.

Before computer-aided design and printing happened, Typography was an art form in its own right. Developed in the world of paper printing like newspapers and magazines. Three aspects of typography are legibility, readability, and aesthetics.

Legibility is the ease with which individual letters can be identified. Some fonts have been polished for centuries, and they’ve become common for a good reason.

Readability applies to the relationship of the letters to each other, as well as to the interaction of colours between the text and the background. You can have a beautiful font, but if you’ve got grey letters on a yellow background, no one will be able to read it.

Aesthetics, is the font pretty enough, is it pleasing to the eye or does it look like a dog threw up on the page

Typography is still a thing, but less regarded as an art form which is a shame. The fonts we choose every day were once actually created by someone with a lot of skill.

Isn’t Typography just a Font?

Well, yes and no. Sounds simple right? Font and Typeface are used all the time and often thought to be the same thing.

A Typeface is the individual letters, numbers, and other characters that let us put words on paper or screens.

Fonts are a complete character set within a typeface, often of a particular size and style. Fonts are also specific computer files that contain all the characters and glyphs within a typeface.

So the only people that really give a shit are Typographers, designers and other creative weirdos.

Type classification

There are three traditional groups of typefaces. All fonts started out or still belong to one of these groups.

Sans-serif means without serifs and do not contain embellishments.

Serif fonts have a small decorative or embellished lines added to each character (or letter).

Script fonts look like handwriting and work more with headlines.

Formal & Informal

Yes there is such a thing as formal and informal typography. Formal is traditionally Serif and Sans Serif. Always used for serious occasions, where legibility is king and clear communication needs to be the standout.

Informal is casual typography the sort you may use on affirmations or as headings. They are traditionally Cursive or Modern Caligraphy types.

What typography should you choose?

If you go for any of my branding packages, I create the perfect balance of imagery, colours and typography. Leave your choices up to me. I’ve been around a while and have forgotten more about Typography that you will ever care to know. But if you are keen to DIY your typography then stick to these simple rules:

  1. Choose a font family like Helvetica that gives you the options of light, regular. bold. extra bold and italic
  2. Pick a Header font, body and cursive.
  3. Use the cursive for quotes or sayings or sometimes headers.
  4. Pick something you can actually read.
  5. Stay the fuck away from Comic Sans. Nothing says ‘amateur hour’ more than that font.

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