Typography is more than just letters or text. Typography is way of organizing written information in a way that clearly communicates the message while being beautiful. In good typography, clear communication should always take precedence over beauty.
- Typeface – a complete set of characters, letters, numbers, and puctuation; mistakenly called font
- Font – typeface + size + color + style
- Baseline – the line all letters sit on
- x height – height of the lower case letters; measured from top to bottom of lower case x, curved letters will slightly go above and below the x height
- Cap height – the height of the capital letters
- Leading – space between lines of text, measured from baselines in one line above another.
- Kerning – space between letters within a word.
- Tracking – vertical leading, spacing between characters on a line, not just within a work
- Ascenders – go above x-height
- Descenders – go below x-height
- Point size – how big or small the font is. 72pt = 1 inch.
- Picas – a measurement, 12 points = 1 pica
- M space – the size of your type
- N space – half the m space
- Serif – the juts or decorations on a character
- Sans-serif – literally without serifs
- Monospaced – each character is an identical width
- White space – literally the space not filled in by type or anything else, gives a design breathing room
- Counterspace – the space within an o or other closed shape in a letter
- Bookface, roman, or normal – the standard weight for a typeface
- True italic or bold – a typeface that is designed with a slant or heavier characters
- Faux italic or bold – a computer-generated slant or skewed (oblique) or uniformly added thickness
- Light – a thin version of a typeface
- Black – an extra thick version of a typeface
- Display Font – a thicker font meant to be used as a headline, title, or header and not for body copy
- Justification – the alignment of a paragraph, full justification means the left and right size are lined up.
Tips on Using Type
- More white space and larger leading improves readability
- 12 pt is a common font size for reading
- 11 pt is a common font size for business and professional documents
- Sans-serif typefaces work well for headings, head lines, and small amounts of text
- Large blocks of text are easier to read when set in a serif typeface for print
- Blocks of text that are more than 10-12 words long are harder to read
- Break up a page into columns of text to improve readability
- Sans serif typefaces tent to appear larger on a computer screen
- Do not use a font size smaller than 8 or 9 for the web or your text will be too difficult to read
- To draw attention to the section heads in your document, don’t set them large, bold, and all uppercase. If you want them to be larger, increase their size by one measure. If you prefer bold, leave the heads the same size as your body text and make them bold. You will soon discover that only a small variation is required to establish visual contrast.
- Some users cannot distinguish colors. To emphasize text—for example, in headings or key phrases within text—so that it won’t be overlooked, use bold formatting as well as color.
- The tops of words are much more important to legibility than the bottoms. Because of this, initial caps disrupt and slow the scanning process as does setting text in all caps.
Websites can only display text in a typeface the enduser has installed on his computer. Below is a list of typefaces almost all systems will have.
- Times New Roman
- Comic sans
Additional Online Resources
Click on a lesson below:
Elements of Art
Principles of Design
Essential Reading & Online Resources
Web Design & Development
Lettering & Typography