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What Is Typography?

Typography is only one of the coolest (and most important) things you can learn how to use as a designer! No big deal.

For real though- having evolved from handwriting, typography is absolutely everywhere and anywhere words exist. It’s in the words you see on websites, in books, on signs, and products, packaging, logos, graphics, etc.

But what is typography exactly?

At the very core, typography is the style, design, or appearance of text. This includes everything from font type and size to texture and spacing.

Typography touches every **aspect of a business from its style guides, to brand messaging, visual design, and marketing efforts. It’s the foundation of how we communicate with other human beings.

Imagine being able to influence a user’s emotions, or make their experience a million times better because your original typeface made it clearer or more accessible for them. That’s the power of typography!

And this is why, as a designer, it’s important for you to learn the craft of typography—to truly understand how to best use such an influential and key component of design.

So, if you’re ready to improve your typography skills and critique and create visually stunning, impactful work, it’s time to finally commit to learning typography.


The Different Elements of Typography

Let’s dive in, shall we? Learning typography design begins with a few basic elements: contrast, scale, repetition, and composition.

Contrast: Pairing opposites together in harmony. Like small text with large text, thick typefaces with thin typefaces, etc. How do you make sure you’re contrasting and not clashing? Learn the rules, even if only to break them better!

Scale: Not just “big and small,” scale is also about the way different elements of your design “play” together in space and how the design as a whole takes up space on the page.

Repetition: This is less about actually repeating yourself and more about using shared elements again and again to convey a cohesive message; similar colors, lines, shapes, and textures all working together.

Composition: This is about how all of the individual elements are thoughtfully designed- it’s how you use a combination of contrast, scale, and repetition to express the voice of your brand and to communicate in an effective and engaging way.

These elements make up the foundation you’ll build on to create a message with a serious impact.

And hey, congrats- if you’re reading this, you already have everything you need to take a typography course online and build on that foundation today!

Typography Design: Rules And Terms Every Designer Must Know

Things get a little more specific when we start talking about the different types of fonts and recognizing what makes something “serif typeface” vs. “typeface without serifs.”

So, if you’re having trouble discerning your “arm” from your “leg,” don’t worry! We’ve put together a list of typography terms that every designer should know:


Now that we’ve got you talking type, it’s time to put those terms into context. Check out this quick-start typography tutorial to help you learn how to rule this skill in no time at all.

How Typography Captures The Attention of Readers

Have you ever looked at a large, unbroken paragraph of text and immediately wanted to click away? There’s a good reason for that.

Novelty sparks a chemical reaction in the brain, essentially rewarding us for looking at and experiencing new things. This might be more evident in, say, unlocking a new secret level of your favorite video game, but it plays a large role in the way we intake information, too.

Well-designed typography can not only grab the attention of the reader, but it has the ability to impact how they feel the moment they see your work.

This is why knowing how to use text in space is vital. Is your content featured on the page in a way that makes sense while also being aesthetically pleasing and visually interesting? Does it encourage the eye to keep moving or does it allow the focus to fade?

Typography Influences Decision Making

Without question, typography is an invaluable marketing tool that can move your reader from vague interest to urgent need.

Well-designed typography helps establish authority for a brand and encourages trust for the reader, which certainly influences their decision to interact with the brand further. Would you trust an online bank that uses comic sans? Probably not.

The novelty that grabbed their attention in the first place will keep your reader moving from one sentence to the next, eager to learn about the brand, products, or services.

That sweet, sweet combo of curiosity and trust is pretty powerful and it makes a brand unforgettable.

Remember, all of this is the secret sauce that kicks your design work up a notch (or ten)! Good copy is effective, but when the art matches the message THAT is when the magic happens.

Personality

You know this- some fonts just feel fun, light, or exciting. Others feel quirky, serious, or sophisticated. It’s pretty cool just how much things like the texture, curve, or spacing of letters or groups of words can make you feel.

For the sake of continuity, it’s important to remember that your typography choices must match the brand’s personality or mission, and be consistent everywhere typography shows up for the business or brand—depicting the personality that it was created for, across all touchpoints.

Ask yourself, what design choices can you make to achieve this? What’s missing? What needs to change?

Tone

Similar to how typography can really bring out a brand’s personality, it can also supercharge the mood and visual tone of the particular message you are trying to create.

When designing or choosing typography fonts to help establish or reinforce the tone of a message, it really comes down to subtle details.

For example, fonts that have bizarro or unconventional edges can either give a fun, quirky tone versus others that may feel more classical or whimsical.

For a more serious or professional tone, you might look at a compressed sans-serif or a simple, traditional font. Or maybe you get wild and let a couple of mismatched type families get together to co-create spunky, unexpected compositions or layouts.

Remember, picking typefaces is only ONE part of how you can influence things. Lining things up in a grid versus randomly aligning things; using huge chunky text for what would normally be paragraph text; playing with contrast, weights, and line breaks- these are all ways to communicate personality and tone.

Quick note: you don’t need to go back to college to learn how different styles communicate different tones; your typography 101 is right here: hop into our typography course to get started now.

Function

Attractive, appealing text shouldn’t distract us from what text must be. And that is, functional.

The user needs to be able to read the text, which requires a legible typeface.

As pretty as some of the more intricate decorative typefaces are, it shouldn't be a struggle to see or understand your design.

When you’re selecting your typeface and fonts—or designing an original one—think about whether or not they will display correctly on any device and any browser.

There are a few places where you can easily test your display cross-browser and cross-device. Websites like BrowserStack offer a number of free and paid testing services to make sure your typography is doin’ its thang.

Accessible typography is effective typography.

This is also really important to think about in terms of user interface design. What happens to text when you hover over it or click on it? Is there a clear and clean hierarchy that’s easy to follow?

It can feel a little overwhelming to make all these large and small-scale design choices. That’s why we recommend starting simple to start strong- selecting just one or two typefaces, to begin with.

But what should your approach to typeface selection be? Great question! Check out this free typography manual to get started today.

When you’re ready to really dig in, jumping into our typography class online will help you take back control over a messy interface and really rule type.

Remember, if you don’t control type, type controls you.

Fonts and Typefaces

While the words themselves are often used interchangeably, font and typeface are actually different. It’s subtle but as a designer working with and crafting type, it’s important to know the distinction.

A typeface is a style of lettering. A font is a variation of a typeface.

For example:


Fonts to Avoid

When considering the role that function, tone, and personality play when selecting a font, it follows that there are some fonts that, for many reasons, should be outright avoided.

Difficult to read:

Distracting:

Overused:

To be clear, we’re not saying that it’s never appropriate to use any of these fonts ever. In general, though, for eye-catching and effective messaging, you’ll want to steer clear of these.

But don't forget to break the rules! Yeah, yeah, we’ve been going on and on about what you should or shouldn’t do.

But you’re a designer. So, design!

Have fun, do things differently, push the ol��� envelope and see what happens.

Typography rules are really more rules of thumb or best practices. There’s still room for you to get creative with it, friend.

And the best part? Learning typography not only improves your typography skills but also makes you a better designer overall. That’s a pretty great plus if you ask us!

For more on typography design, check out our past design critiques. Grab your work and follow along for some self-critique along the way.

Enroll in Typography 01 today and get the tools and motivation you need to create work that’s unique, impactful, and stands apart. You got this!

What Is Typography? Only one of the coolest (and most important) things you can learn how to use as a designer! No big deal. For real though- having evolved from handwriting, typography is absolutely everywhere and anywhere words exist.

Typography is only one of the coolest (and most important) things you can learn how to use as a designer! No big deal.

For real though- having evolved from handwriting, typography is absolutely everywhere and anywhere words exist. It’s in the words you see on websites, in books, on signs, and products, packaging, logos, graphics, etc.

But what is typography exactly?

At the very core, typography is the style, design, or appearance of text. This includes everything from font type and size to texture and spacing.

Typography touches every **aspect of a business from its style guides, to brand messaging, visual design, and marketing efforts. It’s the foundation of how we communicate with other human beings.

Imagine being able to influence a user’s emotions, or make their experience a million times better because your original typeface made it clearer or more accessible for them. That’s the power of typography!

And this is why, as a designer, it’s important for you to learn the craft of typography—to truly understand how to best use such an influential and key component of design.

So, if you’re ready to improve your typography skills and critique and create visually stunning, impactful work, it’s time to finally commit to learning typography.


The Different Elements of Typography

Let’s dive in, shall we? Learning typography design begins with a few basic elements: contrast, scale, repetition, and composition.

Contrast: Pairing opposites together in harmony. Like small text with large text, thick typefaces with thin typefaces, etc. How do you make sure you’re contrasting and not clashing? Learn the rules, even if only to break them better!

Scale: Not just “big and small,” scale is also about the way different elements of your design “play” together in space and how the design as a whole takes up space on the page.

Repetition: This is less about actually repeating yourself and more about using shared elements again and again to convey a cohesive message; similar colors, lines, shapes, and textures all working together.

Composition: This is about how all of the individual elements are thoughtfully designed- it’s how you use a combination of contrast, scale, and repetition to express the voice of your brand and to communicate in an effective and engaging way.

These elements make up the foundation you’ll build on to create a message with a serious impact.

And hey, congrats- if you’re reading this, you already have everything you need to take a typography course online and build on that foundation today!

Typography Design: Rules And Terms Every Designer Must Know

Things get a little more specific when we start talking about the different types of fonts and recognizing what makes something “serif typeface” vs. “typeface without serifs.”

So, if you’re having trouble discerning your “arm” from your “leg,” don’t worry! We’ve put together a list of typography terms that every designer should know:


Now that we’ve got you talking type, it’s time to put those terms into context. Check out this quick-start typography tutorial to help you learn how to rule this skill in no time at all.

How Typography Captures The Attention of Readers

Have you ever looked at a large, unbroken paragraph of text and immediately wanted to click away? There’s a good reason for that.

Novelty sparks a chemical reaction in the brain, essentially rewarding us for looking at and experiencing new things. This might be more evident in, say, unlocking a new secret level of your favorite video game, but it plays a large role in the way we intake information, too.

Well-designed typography can not only grab the attention of the reader, but it has the ability to impact how they feel the moment they see your work.

This is why knowing how to use text in space is vital. Is your content featured on the page in a way that makes sense while also being aesthetically pleasing and visually interesting? Does it encourage the eye to keep moving or does it allow the focus to fade?

Typography Influences Decision Making

Without question, typography is an invaluable marketing tool that can move your reader from vague interest to urgent need.

Well-designed typography helps establish authority for a brand and encourages trust for the reader, which certainly influences their decision to interact with the brand further. Would you trust an online bank that uses comic sans? Probably not.

The novelty that grabbed their attention in the first place will keep your reader moving from one sentence to the next, eager to learn about the brand, products, or services.

That sweet, sweet combo of curiosity and trust is pretty powerful and it makes a brand unforgettable.

Remember, all of this is the secret sauce that kicks your design work up a notch (or ten)! Good copy is effective, but when the art matches the message THAT is when the magic happens.

Personality

You know this- some fonts just feel fun, light, or exciting. Others feel quirky, serious, or sophisticated. It’s pretty cool just how much things like the texture, curve, or spacing of letters or groups of words can make you feel.

For the sake of continuity, it’s important to remember that your typography choices must match the brand’s personality or mission, and be consistent everywhere typography shows up for the business or brand—depicting the personality that it was created for, across all touchpoints.

Ask yourself, what design choices can you make to achieve this? What’s missing? What needs to change?

Tone

Similar to how typography can really bring out a brand’s personality, it can also supercharge the mood and visual tone of the particular message you are trying to create.

When designing or choosing typography fonts to help establish or reinforce the tone of a message, it really comes down to subtle details.

For example, fonts that have bizarro or unconventional edges can either give a fun, quirky tone versus others that may feel more classical or whimsical.

For a more serious or professional tone, you might look at a compressed sans-serif or a simple, traditional font. Or maybe you get wild and let a couple of mismatched type families get together to co-create spunky, unexpected compositions or layouts.

Remember, picking typefaces is only ONE part of how you can influence things. Lining things up in a grid versus randomly aligning things; using huge chunky text for what would normally be paragraph text; playing with contrast, weights, and line breaks- these are all ways to communicate personality and tone.

Quick note: you don’t need to go back to college to learn how different styles communicate different tones; your typography 101 is right here: hop into our typography course to get started now.

Function

Attractive, appealing text shouldn’t distract us from what text must be. And that is, functional.

The user needs to be able to read the text, which requires a legible typeface.

As pretty as some of the more intricate decorative typefaces are, it shouldn't be a struggle to see or understand your design.

When you’re selecting your typeface and fonts—or designing an original one—think about whether or not they will display correctly on any device and any browser.

There are a few places where you can easily test your display cross-browser and cross-device. Websites like BrowserStack offer a number of free and paid testing services to make sure your typography is doin’ its thang.

Accessible typography is effective typography.

This is also really important to think about in terms of user interface design. What happens to text when you hover over it or click on it? Is there a clear and clean hierarchy that’s easy to follow?

It can feel a little overwhelming to make all these large and small-scale design choices. That’s why we recommend starting simple to start strong- selecting just one or two typefaces, to begin with.

But what should your approach to typeface selection be? Great question! Check out this free typography manual to get started today.

When you’re ready to really dig in, jumping into our typography class online will help you take back control over a messy interface and really rule type.

Remember, if you don’t control type, type controls you.

Fonts and Typefaces

While the words themselves are often used interchangeably, font and typeface are actually different. It’s subtle but as a designer working with and crafting type, it’s important to know the distinction.

A typeface is a style of lettering. A font is a variation of a typeface.

For example:


Fonts to Avoid

When considering the role that function, tone, and personality play when selecting a font, it follows that there are some fonts that, for many reasons, should be outright avoided.

Difficult to read:

Distracting:

Overused:

To be clear, we’re not saying that it’s never appropriate to use any of these fonts ever. In general, though, for eye-catching and effective messaging, you’ll want to steer clear of these.

But don't forget to break the rules! Yeah, yeah, we’ve been going on and on about what you should or shouldn’t do.

But you’re a designer. So, design!

Have fun, do things differently, push the ol��� envelope and see what happens.

Typography rules are really more rules of thumb or best practices. There’s still room for you to get creative with it, friend.

And the best part? Learning typography not only improves your typography skills but also makes you a better designer overall. That’s a pretty great plus if you ask us!

For more on typography design, check out our past design critiques. Grab your work and follow along for some self-critique along the way.

Enroll in Typography 01 today and get the tools and motivation you need to create work that’s unique, impactful, and stands apart. You got this!

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Kristin Lajeunesse

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