Being a good designer means using your skill, imagination and understanding to create something that stands out. 

It's about building layers and nuances that captivate audiences, all while keeping the brand consistent. One of the many layers that you need to consider when creating a winning design is, of course, typography.

Typography is the process of making your design look visually appealing and organized. It involves selecting and arranging typefaces, fonts, and other elements to create a cohesive design. In this blog, we'll guide you through the world of typography and discuss a few simple tips to show you how you can improve your designs. So, let's dive in.

Typeface vs. Font, What’s the Difference?

It can be confusing when the terms typeface and font are used interchangeably. To help clarify, the former refers to a collection of the latter. In other words, typefaces are collections of fonts. For instance, Times is a typeface, and Times Bold is a font within the Times family.

Categories of Typefaces

There are three main types of typefaces a font will fall under. These types are:

  1. Serif: A serif typeface can be identified by its small line or stroke attached to the end of a larger stroke. Often referred to as the "feet" at the bottom of letters, serif typefaces are considered more traditional and tend to be used editorially in newspapers, magazines, and books.

  2. Sans Serif: Sans serif derives from the French word sans, meaning "without." These typefaces are distinguished by their lack of serifs and can be seen as more modern and bold. A popular sans serif font is Arial.

  3. Decorative/Display: Decorative or display typefaces are best used for titles and headlines because they can cause legibility issues when used in large amounts of body copy. This type comprises subcategories such as slab serifs, scripts, blackletter, monospaced, and more. These typefaces are often considered to be "trendy" and less versatile.

Choosing the Right Font

Choosing the right font can be a critical step in creating effective typography. Consider a few tips:

  1. Consider the message and audience: The basic idea is to choose a font that matches the tone and purpose of the message you are trying to communicate. It also considers the needs of the audience you are trying to reach. For example, a formal business letter might call for a serif font, while a children's book might require a more whimsical font.

  2. Keep it simple: Simpler fonts tend to be more legible and easier to read, particularly when used in larger sizes or longer blocks of text. Avoid overly decorative or ornate fonts.

  3. Think about contrast: If you are using multiple fonts, ensure they are distinct enough to differentiate. Fonts that are too similar can create confusion and make the design appear cluttered.

  4. Consider scalability: Choose fonts that can be easily scaled up or down, especially if the typography will be used in different contexts or media.

  5. Test it: Before finalizing your font choice, test it in different sizes, colors, and contexts to see how it looks and feels. Make sure it is legible and visually appealing in all situations.

  6. Don't use too many fonts: Generally, it is best to stick to 2-3 fonts (or fewer) in a design. Using too many fonts can make the design look cluttered and unprofessional.

What Are the Elements of Typography?

Along with typeface and font, there are other elements you should consider when creating the right typography. By carefully manipulating the following elements, designers can craft visually stunning typography that effectively conveys the intended message.

  1. Size: The physical size of the typeface, typically measured in points.

  2. Leading: The vertical space between lines of text measured from baseline to baseline.

  3. Kerning: The adjustment of space between individual letters, typically to improve legibility or visual appeal.

  4. Tracking: The space adjustment between groups of letters or words, typically used to improve legibility or visual appeal.

  5. Alignment: The positioning of the text relative to a visual grid or other design elements, such as left-aligned, right-aligned, centered, or justified.

  6. Color: The use of color to add visual interest or emphasis to the text, such as through colored text, bold or italic font, or highlighting.

  7. Style: The overall aesthetic or look of the typography, including decorative elements such as borders or background patterns.

By manipulating these essential elements, designers can create a wide range of functional, visually appealing styles that effectively communicate the intended message.

Making Great Typography

Great typography goes beyond just being legible and aesthetically pleasing; creating it involves various technical and creative factors. These include:

  1. Attention to detail: Pay attention to everything, including font selection, spacing, alignment, and color. Every aspect of typography should be carefully considered to ensure the best possible outcome.

  2. Creativity: Think about how to design creatively beyond just standard font and size. Doing so involves creative thinking beyond standard font choices and sizes. Experiment with different styles, shapes, and arrangements to create unique and impactful designs.

  3. Functionality: Typography is functional and serves a specific purpose. It involves selecting fonts and styles that align with the message and audience and creating a visual hierarchy that guides the viewer through the design.

  4. Consistency: Your typography is consistent throughout the design and should create a cohesive and unified look that is easy to read and understand.

  5. Adaptability: Great typography is adaptable to different mediums and platforms, whether print, digital, or mobile. It involves selecting fonts and styles that are easily readable across different devices and sizes.

  6. Innovation: Be bold and consider new techniques and styles in your typography, provided they remain consistent with the stylistic points we've already mentioned.

In short, great typography involves attention to detail, creativity, functionality, consistency, adaptability, and innovation. By focusing on these characteristics, designers can create a fantastic result that effectively communicates the intended message and resonates with the audience.

Improving Your Typography Skills

If you want to work on your typography skills, you must be willing to learn and practice. Consider a few tips to keep in mind as you improve your typography.

  1. Study typography: Learn about the history of typography, different font styles and classifications, and how to use typography effectively in design. There are many books, blogs and online courses available on this subject.

  2. Experiment with different fonts: Try different fonts and see how they look in various contexts. Pay attention to how different fonts convey different moods and tones.

  3. Practice typography fundamentals: Practice kerning, tracking, leading, alignment and other basic typography skills to improve your technique and understanding of typography.

  4. Pay attention to detail: It sounds like an overused trope but is incredibly important. Small details can make a big difference in typography. Pay attention to line breaks, hyphenation, and punctuation to ensure a professional result.

  5. Get feedback: Share your work with others and ask for feedback. Doing so can help you catch areas for improvement that you may have yet to consider.

  6. Keep up with trends: Stay up-to-date on the latest typography trends and techniques to keep your skills fresh and relevant. There are numerous journals and online resources that regularly follow the 

  7. Practice regularly: The more you practice typography, the more you will improve. Set aside time to practice typography and incorporate it into your design work.

Following these tips can improve your typography skills and help you create more effective and visually appealing designs. Ultimately, this can help you grow as an artist, evolve as a professional and help your brand stand out in its industry.

About The Old State
The Old State is a Dallas-based full-service marketing agency with a focus on web design, inbound marketing and website optimization. We believe in helping clients create digital strategies that lead to real success through listening, research, and adaptability. Our process ensures that we offer solutions that align with clients’ visions and business goals. For more information, click here to contact us.