What the font!
TYPESTYLE/TYPEFACE/FONT. Things you might not know.
I thought that today I would put together a short explanation about how you can make the copy that you are creating for a project a little bit better. I’m looking at typestyles, fonts, kerning and leading. Simple easy ways to up your design game.
FONT vs TYPEFACE/TYPESTYLE
When speaking about design, we often speak about fonts and typestyles using them as if they were the same thing. Which I now know after 30 years, they’re not.
TYPEFACE also known as TYPESTYLE
A typeface (family) is the name of a specific collection of related fonts. For example Geo Sans.
FONT refers to a particular weight, width, and style within that typeface.
So the Typeface is Geo Sans, the font is Medium / Bold / Light etc within that family. So the chosen Typeface is Geo Sans. The font is medium 9pt.
We are choosing Geo Sans medium 9pt.
THERE ARE 4 DIFFERENT VARIATIONS IN TYPESTYLES
Serif, San Serif, Display/Decorative and Script. All fonts fall in these categories. Some sources would add Script into Decorative.
Serif, like Times New Roman. A serif, is the little tail that finishes off each letter. Serif font designs are older and some say they are best used in body copy. They are rounded and easier on the eye. I think for the best part designers don’t follow this rule anymore.
So it follows that Sans Serif (Sans — no Serif — tail) are typestyles that have no little tail on each letter. They are more modern, cleaner and easier to read. Look at Helvetica or Futura.
Display/Decorative typestyles are, well, decorative. Look at the well know STENCIL or Old English typeface or any of the fun funky styles out there.
Script is self explanatory, all those lovely calligraphic, hand written fonts. Script and some of the decorative typestyles should NEVER be all upper case. If you cant read it quickly and easily, and you know what you’ve written…. believe me no one else will be able to.
WHY ARE TYPESTYLES AND FONTS IMPORTANT IN DESIGN
Firstly, the typestyle that you chose when you did your branding forms an important part of your perceived look. It follows that the dominant typestyles in your adverts, presentations should be those chosen in your branding.
Secondly, Typestyles, and more importantly fonts, establish the hierarchal order in your piece. Heirarchal order indicates the order of importance of the written copy. So bigger / bolder stands out, so is read first. It follows that medium size will be read next and small body copy last.
It must also be said that just because you have 20 typefaces at your disposal you really shouldn’t be tempted to use all of them. A good design uses three at MOST, relying on the font characteristics to speak to the heirarchal order of the copy.
A teasing snippet. According to those in the know, NEVER, EVER use Comic Sans. In my opinion its not the worst typestyle that I have seen, also I’m not keen on being told what to do by self proclaimed trendsetters, therefor #isupportcomicsans
Kerning is the space between the letter and words, slightly spaced letters make reading easier. If the letters are too close (or with too much space) the words become illegible. Word spacing is also important, to far apart and the copy becomes disjointed.
The traditional term for line spacing is leading. It got its name form the fact that in traditional print shops, pieces of lead was inserted between the lines of type to increase the line spacing. For most text, the optimal line spacing is between 120% and 145% of the point size.
Never ever let your design app determine the kerning and leading in your copy. Practice till you have a feel for what is most easy on the eye and stick with that.
I hope this helps, but, lets be honest, it’s always best to leave the designing to the professionals, you can find me at jaccirdesign.com. ;-) I look forward to making your next project fabulous!