iStockphoto.com : Articles - Know Your Type
Typography is an artform that stretches back thousands of years—from stone-carved letterforms inthe second century, to Gutenberg’s creation of movable, letterpress type in 1448. Typesetting was born a tedious trade where hours were spent laying out a book’s pages one letter at a time. For the last150 years designers have wielded type as visual weaponry, to point directly at the masses and fire at will. Now we’re assaulted with type, most of which is awful; and that’s where you come in.Practicing good typography is at the core to good design. Computers are all grown up (they even come with two buttons we hear) and everyone, including yer mama, is making christmas newsletters withcustom type—comic sans and all. Knowing your em-dashes, serifs and line heights is important, butthe key is developing typographic control. Here are some points to consider:Some of the best designers are also writers, but at the very least we should all be readers. Writing isturning into a crucial role for us; when it’s our job to articulate ideas we have to be clear about whatthose ideas are and how to best present them. Read the text first, then make recommendations to theauthor about clarity, pace and length to ensure the text is digestible. All too often designers findthemselves rewriting all of the text, stripping out the nonsense and getting at the core ideas. And this becomes absolutely key on the web, where writing has a very utilitarian function and ideas need to beas streamlined as possible. Use lists; break long pieces up with clear headings and subheadings;summarize up front; use emphasis to break homogeny.Typefaces change the tone of text, so know what your words are saying and how your typefaceemphasizes and articulates the message. Not every typeface is the right choice for every job, but mostdesigners have a handful of favorites that cover just about everything. Analyze older print designs andsee how some of the greats still stand up today; good typography has a lot to do with the timelessnessof a piece.
http://www.istockphoto.com/article_view.php?ID=153 (2 of 12)2/1/2006 1:35:24 PM