In the era of online learning and the looming end of the world, some of us turn to the internet or our peers to learn something new. If you're looking to improve your type-hunting skills, pick which typefaces to use or get another crash course on Typography, you've come to the right link.
In this article, I'm sharing my process on how I normally choose a typeface whenever I work on a design project.
Choosing a Type
Typography, like all the other design processes, starts with a basic structure. We have more important considerations to think of such as readability, legibility and not just aesthetic. First things to consider are classifications and characteristics of a typeface so you can find something that suits your needs, something that will help you communicate your message better.
I create moodboards to help me visualize the characteristics that I need in a typeface. Just as people create a moodboard of their inspirations or events, I also like to keep tabs of typefaces or read type blogs where I look for inspirations and typefaces that I might like be able to use someday in future projects. I use a pinterest board and instagram collections to dump all these designs that I like.
Create a List
To choose a typeface that's suitable to the message I want to convey, I list down things or adjectives and that inhibits the characteristics that I am looking for.
I think this process is similar to branding, where you find traits or create a brand personality. You start by identify it with words, objects, or adjectives.
Check if the typeface has all the characters that you need.
Some typefaces might only have letters and might not have numerals, punctuations, commas, etc. Your computer will automatically set these missing characters to the default, like MYRIAD PRO and it's gonna look discordant with the typeface that you're using. Another consideration to make when you're choosing a typeface is making sure that it has all the weights and styles that you need. Upright Roman, Italic and Bold are some of the basics.
These These are typefaces that can be used in a lot of executions, one that I can use in a variety of sizes. A typeface that will look good for a running text but also good for a headline, good for a date or a post or navigation on a website.
Font Family - A traditional roman book typeface typically has a small family - an intimate group consisting of a roman, italic, small caps, and possibly bold and semibold.
Superfamily - This consists of dozens of of related fonts in multiple weights such as thin, light, black, compressed and condensed.
The most important thing to consider is, you are setting type for someone else to read.
That type not only needs to be legible, but it also needs to be readable. Is it something that's inviting? The way that you set your type will convey some sort of message.
All these things are wrapped up in the way that you set type. When it comes to legibility, we're talking about the principles of typesetting. Is the spacing right? Is the size of your type large enough so that someone can read it from the distance they're sitting at? Does the color provide enough contrast to be legible? Is the spacing of the lines correct for the size of type that you're using? - All of these things come together to amount to some sort of legibility.
Designers create hierarchy and contrast by playing with the scale of letterforms. It also creates a visual contrast. movement and depth as well as hierarchies of importance.
Typeface or Font
A lot of people use these words interchangeably, that's probably okay, but a typeface and a font are two different things.
Designer, Nick Sherman said this out well. "A typeface is to a song, as the font is to an MP3." A type designer will design a typeface, let's say, that it's Futura, and that typeface exists on your computer in a font file.
What about Lettering?
It's also helpful to understand the difference between typography and lettering. Typography deals with typesetting, which is using typefaces to create reproducible results that are the same every time.
When I design something, I try to stick to at least 2-3 fonts. I choose a font family with a lot of variations I can play around with. I've committed a type crime back in college, when we had a plate where we need to create a magazine. I didn't have any sort of typographic knowledge back then so I used different combinations of fonts for each page of the magazine, and I really felt like I did such a huge job, but I failed the plate and I was devastated. Ever since then, I just stick to 1-2 typefaces.
I like playing with contrast. It depends on the work that I'm doing. If I use a script, I pair it with a sans serif, or the sans serif with a serif. Whatever feels good and appropriate for your project.
Aim for something that feels comfortable. Good typography fades to the background. It's sort of a silent partner for the story that's being told. If it's calling attention to itself, it's taking attention away from the story. ✳︎
Learn more about type terms and characteristics with the Type Glossary See type in use with Fonts In Use Find Typefaces on Adobe Fonts and Google Fonts Typewolf & Type Review Journal Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton