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Article: Basic Typography Design Guide for Effective Communication

Basic Typography Design Guide for Effective Communication

Created E. Evlogiev

Typography design is literally everywhere. Have you ever noticed line spacing in the ingredients list on the back of the cracker package? The font-weight of road signs or the typesetting of numbers on price tags? All that examples are typography designs.

Typography is part of our everyday life. We are constantly surrounded by words and languages, where we are and no matter we look. In this article, we will tell you some basic insights and new perspectives of how we can manipulate the use of typography design to create better communication.

If you are a designer, you should understand the importance of communication, don't you? If your designs don't communicate well, then what is the point of a design? There is no value if there's no context to be delivered.

So if you are willing to open your mind, the ways to use typography are endless. There are so many ways or techniques to use typography. However, we are not going to dive much into the variety technique. Instead, we will give you a much deeper understanding of where typography design comes from, the categorization, the purpose, and the essential elements you can use to experiment with. Who knows, you can create a new style out on your own.

Created by Angela Hatehortua


A Brief History of Typography

What is typography design? In short, typographic design is the art of crafting messages in a composition that is easy to read, easy to look at, and it is used to engage readers. Text composition is a key element of this area of design. By using composition, we can control the reading flow, the information's hierarchy, and the effectiveness of a particular message that you want readers to understand.

By using typography, we can create a message or a suggestion. However, there are plenty of tricks involved. One of them is by choosing the correct typeface to create a certain tone of the reading. I believe you must know that different typefaces could show different personalities. So keep in mind that choosing the correct typeface with the particular context is a crucial step.

Most typographers do not draw their own typefaces but rather work with a variety of existing typeface designs. This process requires the designer to go through a series of decisions such as choosing the right typeface, choosing point sizes, and adjusting spacing and lines, layout, and more. We are going to inform you more about these essential elements in the further section below.

Nowadays, typography design can be made quickly and easily using laptops, computers, and even smartphones. However, it isn't always about technology either. This type of design began to be discovered in the early 15th century thanks to Johannes Gutenberg, who revolutionized typography by mass-producing printed materials.

Before there was a printing technique, the only way to mass-produce information is to craft books or posters manually by hand. And there are certain typographic techniques and rules that have never changed since history, and they should be considered to be followed in order to produce effective reader engagement.

Created by Jeff Reid


Typeface Categories Terms That You Have To Know

In order you learn deeper about typography design, you have to know at least the basics term and the categorization of the primary material, typefaces. Typeface design comes in all shapes and styles. Categorizing them can be challenging because there are many factors to consider, such as the appearance, background, inspiration, and era when they were created.

So here are three standard classifications in typeface design before further divided into smaller categories. The three main categories are Serif, Sans Serif, and Cursive. Take a look:

Created by Cast



There are four categories derived from the main category, 'Serif' typeface design.

1.1. Humanist Serif Typeface
The first serif typeface was inspired by traditional typography design and was called Old Style or Humanist. This style can be known by its smooth, round shape and lightweight variations. One of the great examples of Humanist Serif typeface is Temeraire.

Created by TypeTogether


1.2. Transitional Serif Typeface
Around the middle of the 18th century, a new type of serif appeared, which is now referred to as Transition Serif typeface. This style marks the transition stage between the Humanist and Modern styles, and it combines some of the characteristics of the two styles. 

Created by SilkType


1.3. Modern Serif Typeface
At the end of the 18th century and early 19th century, a newer serif typeface design style was developed, which could be said to be quite radical: Modern. We can recognize this style by the sharp contrast of weight and the thin straight lines of the letters. 

Created by Latinotype


1.4 Slab Serif Typeface
With the advent of advertising in the 19th century, the Egyptian typeface, commonly called Slab Serif, was introduced. Thanks to their bold and heavy-looking serif, they have become the preferred style for displaying a commercial.

Created by Latinotype


2.Sans Serif

There are three categories derived from the main category 'Sans Serif' typeface design.

2.1 Humanist Sans Serif Typeface
Sans serif typeface became popular in the 20th century because it also had a calligraphic influence, and so it is also called Humanist. There is a slight variation in weight and overall vibes in each design.

Created by Armasen


2.2.Transitional Sans Serif Typeface
In the mid 19th, the Helvetica typography design was created to set the standard for the Sans Serif Transition. The letter of these typefaces looks uniform and stiffer than any designs that have been used before and have absolutely no handcrafted or rustic elements.

Created by Rosetta


2.3.Geometric Sans Serif Typeface
Geometric sans serifs are the same as modern serifs. They are built on geometric shapes such as circular, rectangular or triangular shapes. Because of the strong edge and geometrical shapes, people often used these typefaces for futuristic typography works.

Created by NaumType



There are three categories derived from the main category 'Cursive' typography design.

3.1. Script Typeface
Script letters mimic handwriting and calligraphy styles and can be made in any style, from sleek and formal to those that look messy but easy. As easy as engage readers.

Created by Lián Types


3.2. Brush Typeface

Brush typefaces are similar to script typeface design but taking more inspiration from using brushes as the main tool. Usually, the design has a similar texture to watercolor or paintbrush.

Created by Sipanji21


3.3. Blackletter Typeface
Finally, the Gothic or Blackletter Style. This style has a traditional calligraphy tip at the base. This style was developed from the very small Carolingian style, and in the mid-12th century, it was only created with sharp, straight, and angular lines.

Created by RMU


Font vs. Typeface

A typeface (or font family) is the visual design of letters, numbers, and punctuation and consists of various font formats. So typography terms, a set of glyphs is considered a typeface. In contrast, font is the software or code that the program used to style the typefaces and tell the media how the typeface should look. For example, Avenir is a typeface, but Avenir 12pt Roman Oblique is a font.

A full font family can have various styles: from super thin to very black, condensed to wide or stretch, and each style can make the same typeface looks different. But that's not all. Some typeface designs also have various uppercase letters (uppercase are letters that reach the height of X), line numbers, or non-line numbers (numbers that don't go beyond the baseline and the x-height, which are integrated more seamlessly into blocks of text).

Created by Linotype


The Rules of Typography Design

When working with fonts and arranging paragraphs on a page, we need to pay attention to several factors and ensure that what we design is legible. Unless, of course, if you create an experimental-obscure typography design, it aims to clutter.

But if you are working on a standard situation such as magazines with lengthy text, you have to consider the text is easily readable. The more it is easy to read, the more you can deliver the context effectively. In other words, you should pay attention to every little decision of editing you make in typography design. These are the several basic typography rules you might want to check:


1. Alignment

Alignment refers to the body of text's arrangement on a page. More specifically, it is to align the sides of paragraphs in a proper formation. There are four types of alignment, but keep in mind that none are less definite than the others.

1.1. Left Aligned
Left Aligned is probably the most commonly used alignment in typography design, as it follows the natural flow of most languages. When using left alignment, you should pay attention to the right portion of the paragraph. It should look similar in terms of the line lengths, so it looks clean and flowy.

1.2  Right Aligned
Contrary to left-aligned, right-aligned goes against most written languages' natural flow, but it has some advantages when using it. This can create unusual looks, but be careful, as sometimes it can be difficult on the eyes if used in long paragraphs.

1.3. Centered
Centered is can make the typography look clean and strong. But if done badly, the alignment in the middle can look a little tedious and even messy. But with a lot of thought, this typography design can create an elegant and dynamic impression to readers. The key is to play with line lengths while maintaining overall balance.

1.4. Justified
Justified alignment can make a paragraph look modern and clean when it is done well, but it also can go awry. Because words have to fill the entire line, blank spaces may suddenly appear between the words that have been created. So make sure to balance everything well when using justified alignment. 


2. Tracking

The process of adjusting the overall spacing in a group of letters is called letter-spacing or tracking. Tracking can be used to make reading easier.

The larger the text, the greater the distance between letters, and tracking needs to be reduced. Likewise, if the text size gets smaller, the tracking needs to be increased. Improving tracking can be tricky because a person is often more likely to implement tracking than is necessary.


3. Kerning

Kerning refers to the modification of the spacing between letters. Although in most cases in typography design, someone can get away with just implementing tracing, sometimes we need to get into that part and change a little bit of space between the two letters again to increase readability.

There are common gaps that usually appear around most letterforms, such as A, W, V, T. But if a designer has worked well with typography, they don't need to apply a lot of kerning. Analyze your design and implement the tracking or kerning method that best suits your goals.

Also, keep in mind that just because kerning will work fine for a certain typeface in a typography design, it doesn't mean that the kerning will also work the same as another typeface. It will highly depend on different visual circumstances, such as the design or the letter's shape.


4. Leading

The distance between two lines of text is called Line Spacing or Leading. By customizing it, we can play around with the textures and colors of the paragraphs. By doing that, we can create more space for greater readability, create visual interest and build up lots of reading engagement.

The optimal size of line spacing in a typography design depends on a variety of things, such as the volume of words in relation to the space used, the size of the display, or the purpose for which we are aiming.


5. Hierarchy

Hierarchies help us to create visual interest and direct the viewer's view across the page, making the process of absorbing text much easier and more enjoyable. The clearest and easiest way to create multiple hierarchies is to have information written in different sizes.

We can also create interesting hierarchies in our typography design by tweaking the letters or line spacing or by adjusting the text size. We can also mix styles, colors, special characters, or different alignments and layouts.

Tons of considerations need to be calculated when setting up a hierarchy for your typography design. Knowing which object to prioritize is the main step of arranging the text hierarchy.

If you look at newspapers or magazines, there's lots of text going on, from the cover to the contents. If there's not enough clear hierarchy, readers might not even bother to read further. There will be confusion about which part should be read first and which part is next. By arranging the hierarchy, you can create a proper reading flow. So the reader could understand the context easily without getting lost in misdirection.

Created by Benedicto Cernal III


6. Grids

One of the most important elements in the process of working with typography design is a grid. Grids can be made of various shapes, from simple to complex. Using a grid, we will frame certain information on a page.

The grid will give us finer control over how we arrange the various elements on our page. With the correct use of grids, we can create compositions that appeal to engage readers while making information easy to process and understand. 

Created by Matńęs Zimerts


7. Blank Space

Another very crucial point when organizing typography is blank space. Make friends and stay close to empty spaces at all times. Many desire to fill every corner of the page with text or images but having lots of blank space is usually a good idea.

Usually, a good amount of emptiness can give the information some breathing room. It makes the composition of the page more spacious and helps the reader absorb the information easier.

Created by Max Pirsky


The Power of Typography

Typography design has enormous power to engage readers when it is used properly with the right combination of line spacing, kerning, hierarchy, size, and other elements.

From stiffness and elegant pages to dynamic compositions to mind-bending, you can write down anything your imagination comes up with. By understanding the basic rules and information about letters and the different ways they are used, we can express ourselves through typographic design in more creative ways.

By successfully using typography design, we can even change a potential customer to a buyer. Yes, we can change people's perceptions and minds with words and designs. It sounds simple, yet it takes a lot of time and dedication to master the skills. 

Created by E. Evlogiev


Tips of Effective Typography

Before desktop computing, typographer was a job that is considered a special kind of occupation. But now, anyone with access to word processing or design software can instantly choose a typeface and layout in a second. However, this access does not necessarily make a person a typographer.

Like for example, someone who can nail several pieces of wood together to make a table, but that person is not necessarily called a carpenter, right? Effective typography is very difficult to teach and learn. Typography is a very slow skill to master, but that doesn't mean it's impossible.

Typography design requires lots of training, attention, and skill. It takes a lot of sense to make a typography design that is wildly experimental but also it has clear context and easy to understand. The following are basic tips for designing typography that is highly effective.

Created by Ana Urbanc



These typography design rules are an essential guide that can help you along the way in your design career. We encourage you to go ahead and try everything. Learn, experiment, make mistakes and start again. That way, you will be able to develop more refined skills and style that suits you. We hope you can enjoy this information. Feel free to drop any comments or ask any questions in the section below. We will try our best to answer your feedback. Cheers!

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