Feb 1 , 2014

Typography is the balance and interplay of letterforms on the page, a verbal and visual equation that helps the reader understand the form and absorb the substance of the page content. Great typography, like great acting, can often go unnoticed but poor typography, like bad acting, is instantly recognized and dismissed.

Whether it’s a printed document or a webpage, typography plays a dual role as both verbal and visual communication. As readers scan a page they are subconsciously aware of both functions:

    | first they survey the overall graphic patterns of the page,
    | then they parse the language, or read.
Good typography establishes a visual hierarchy for rendering prose on the page by providing visual punctuation and graphic accents that help readers understand relations between prose and pictures, headlines and subordinate blocks of text.

Font choice is perhaps the primary aspect of text typography – prose, fiction and non-fiction, editorial, educational, religious, scientific, spiritual and commercial writing all have differing characteristics and requirements.

Here are some thoughts that will simplify the typographical challenge:

  1. Narrow down your choices by selecting the tone you want to present. Typography can be used to create personality and feeling on a page:

    • | Formal or informal
      | Modern or classic
      | Dense or open
      | Light or dramatic

  2. Serifs are lines or curves projecting from the end of a letterform. Typefaces with these additional strokes are called serif typefaces. Serif fonts are generally used to achieve an elegant or classical look.

  3. Sans serif typefaces do not have finishing strokes at the ends of the letterforms. The name comes from the French word sans, meaning ‘without’. Sans serif typefaces generally project a contemporary look.

  4. Script typefaces simulate handwriting, with one letter connected to another visually, if not physically. Script typefaces emulate several different types of hand-lettering, including calligraphy, drafting and cartoon.

  5. Legibility is also compromised by letter spacing, word spacing and leading that are too tight or too loose. Generous vertical space separates lines of text, making it easier for the eye to distinguish one line from the next or previous line. Poorly designed fonts and those that are too tightly or loosely fitted, can also result in poor legibility.

Some guidelines to improve the legibility of a document are:
    | Text set in lower case is more legible than text set all in UPPER CASE (capitals), because lower case letter structures and word shapes are more distinctive having greater saliency;
    | Regular upright type (roman) is found to be more legible than italics;
    | Contrast, without dazzling brightness, has also been found to be important in effective communication. For instance, black images on a yellow or cream background are easier to read than reversed images or type (i.e., white on a black background);
    | The upper portions of letters play a stronger part than the lower portions in the recognition process.

…and if you need assistance with creating or printing your documents, don’t hesitate to contact your KKP… we’re the experts in making your printed material look great.