The Basics of Typography

Learning about typography is essential if you’re in the graphic design industry. More so if you’re involved in creating human-centric design such as posters and webpages.

But what is typography? Isn’t it just about fonts? What are the elements of good typography? We try to define and explain these basic points in this article.

What is Typography?

Typography is the art and technique of arranging type that creates appeal and makes the text readable to audiences. It comes from the Greek word typos, which means “mark” or “figure”; and grapho, which means “I write”.

Most tend to confuse this with calligraphy. While both typography and calligraphy is an art related to the design of words, they vary by means of execution.

Typography is digital, working with fonts and typesetting while calligraphy is traditional, more on writing with pen, or brush, and paper.

Basically, typography is the discipline of shaping written information and can be applied to almost anything that involves text and makes it readable, which is why most graphic artists and web designers consider typography as a very important factor in their works.

Typography beyond the fonts

While it is true that the basis of typography are fonts, it does not end there. There is more to it than having a set of good looking fonts. A lot of factors and elements are included when practicing typography.

This includes the composition of where and how the fonts are laid out. Where they would be put, next to or on top of each other? How big they are and how each letters are spaced also contributes to the overall appeal.

Other than that there is also the consideration of a good combination. Sometimes two fonts when laid out with each other don’t really complement each other very well. All of these factors combined, when executed well, makes all the difference.

Elements of Good Typography

Combination
The combination of certain elements in your typographical work in critical and affects its appeal to your audience. This includes consistency, contrast, and repetition.

Consistency
Using too many typefaces might make your work a bit unflattering and lose its clarity, while having a wide variety of kerning might lead to others not knowing where to look. Consistency gives your work a neat, more professional look and allows your audience to stay focused on the content and keep reading.

Contrast
Contrast includes fonts, color, and even kerning. This will draw attention to certain elements of your page and would contribute how pleasing your typographical work is to the eye.

An example of this is the contrast of a white text over a black background. These contrasts create definition and depth to your work.

Repetition
Alongside this is repetition, which is a higher level of consistency and an extension of contrast. This is where you use certain elements again and again, creating a consistency and can be varied through contrast.

For example, using the same font again but this time changing its size and kerning, or just plainly use it again as it is. It may seem redundant but, when utilized well, can make a certain element stronger by repeating, establishing it as a key feature.

Placement
The alignment and chronological order of certain elements make an impact on your typographical work. The proximity of your elements decide whether or not these elements are of the same value, or even of the same hierarchy.

Why Typography is Important in Web Design

Web design will always include text as this will serve as interface and the main source of information of a website. No one would visit a website that does not have anything written on it because people visit these sites to read the content it offers.

Typography can be applied to anything that has text. In other words, to really create a good website, you need to learn and practice typography. This can impact how visitors perceive a website. Whether the site is sloppy or professional, rushed or carefully made.

Typography adds to the overall aesthetic of the whole page. Typography can make the difference between a web design that is acceptable and a web design that is really good. It determines the mood, the theme, and even your website’s character.

It also adds the factor of “new”, or rather different that would separate your website from the rest. At least 90% of your website consists of content that you would share, and this is why typography is so important.

Because a successful typographical work is almost a sure success in your web design. Because typography is about readability that would allow your visitors to simply read.

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This article is written by juliannedenise_f. You can order an article from her here.