“Good typography is invisible, bad typography is everywhere”
Type is defined as typeset text or any specifically shaped reproducible characters. Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language readable and legible. Type is everywhere; in books, on websites, signage, vehicle graphics, marketing materials, and storefront windows to name a few. The historical and physical attributes of type are taken into account when designing for specific media. There is a lot to typography, such as the different type family classifications and subclassifications, displaying the type, and readability and legibility. These factors culminate to display words in a well designed, applicable fashion.
The word typeface refers to the collection of letterforms designed to go together. A font refers to all the characters of a specific typeface. For example, Gotham Regular is a typeface belonging to the font Gotham. The latin alphabet that we are familiar with today grew out of a combination of Greek, Semitic, and southern Italian influences. The main type family classifications have evolved since that time; Serif, Sans Serif, Script, Blackletter, and Display. They differ by their physical attributes and when they came to fruition. The two most widely used classifications are Serif and Sans Serif. Serifs have subclassifications of their own, which are Humanist, Old Style, Transitional, Modern, and Slab. The Sans Serif subclassifications are Grotesque, Geometric, and Humanist. The aforementioned type family classifications differ by the protruding features stemming from the main strokes of the letters— referred to as serifs— or lack thereof. Type style refers to the various versions of a typeface. A type style, for example, can be bold, italic, or hairline. Using certain typestyles such as bold or italic throughout text helps organize and highlight information. However, save them just for that; it’s not advised to write a paragraph in all bold or italic.Certain types of fonts have nuances about them that make them more suitable for certain applications than others. A pretty script typeface would be a poor choice for a biker bar, and blackletter text doesn’t jive well with hair salons. Those are extreme examples, but they illustrate how a business can get lost in translation because of a poor type choice. Serif typefaces tend to be used for a more traditional look. The fine details of the serifs don’t always display well on screens, especially at small sizes on high resolution displays. This may change as screen resolution continues to improve. Sans serif fonts illustrate a modern look. They’re widely used on the web because they display well on screens of various resolutions. Script, display, and blackletter fonts should be used sparingly in a design. Over-use of those fonts diminish the impact that they can have; they have all the impact they need when used only once. They make great choices for headlines and are not suitable for body copy. Script fonts can be found on wedding invitations because of their formal tone. There are other types of scripts that have a more casual or fun look to them. Lots of display fonts are available to aide in creating an atmosphere in a design. Blackletter fonts can add a medieval and dark tone to a design. Readability and legibility are key when working with typography. If those two factors are executed poorly, readers will have a hard time reading, and may get frustrated and give up. Readability refers to how easily a page of text can be read and navigated and legibility refers to the ease with which a reader can recognize and differentiate between letterforms. Long lines of text cause eye fatigue, which is a matter of readability. For print, lines of text should be sixty to seventy characters per line, while with web the ideal amount of characters per line is about forty. Out of left aligned, centered, right aligned, and justified text, left aligned text is the most easy to read because the various line lengths provide a point of reference for moving down to the next line. Tightly spaced letters and tight leading also damper readability because of how text gets squished; it becomes much more difficult to ascertain letters and words. Legibility is a matter of typeface and its background. Script typefaces aren’t legible enough for long passages of text, and all caps script is even worse. Display fonts are applicable for headlines but not for long passages. Serif and sans serif typefaces are the most legible. Lower case text is more legible than all caps, and that’s because of the shapes lower case letters create. All caps create rectangles, so each letter has to be read individually to make out a word. Black text on a white background is the most legible color combination.