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Beginning Graphic Design: Typography and Other Design

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“All messages are different and they are everywhere. Typography is painting with words”.

In graphic design, typography may be defined as “the idea and practice of letter and typeface design”, in other words it is an art concerned with the design elements that can be applied to letters and text, giving human language a strong visual form. One may develop this craft by studying old books, manuscripts and inscriptions and in doing so appreciate different letterforms. Historically letterforms from the Renaissance period as early as 15th century to the Postmodernist era in the 21st century are great examples. “The origins of typography have been around for centuries” an example of which are the Egyptian scribes writing hieratic script with reed pens on papyrus or vellum in 1000 BCE. In Bringhurst’s writing, he explains that the writing style was developed primarily for reasons of speed and is referred to as rustic. Examples of their work now stand in museums in Cairo, London and New York, they are still perfectly legible even after many centuries since they were created.

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Bringhurst’s theory in harmony and counter point originates from the early renaissance period, he examines how they used simple scales to draw more attention to designer’s work. Bringhurst depicts the design choices made by the early renaissance designers as he says “their pages show what sensuous evenness of texture and verity of rhythm can be attend with a single type of font”. Bringhurst demonstrates that the earliest forms of typography used single typefaces with single weights and single strokes, therefore the designers had to creatively manipulate their typo design in order to make it effective.

If one was not sure what typography was and one was to research it, this is what it will say according to online sources: – “Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable and appealing when displayed” Collins Dictionary. It is imperative that the designer’s intention should be to provide information. It should attract attention, enhance the viewers perception and tell a story. The more attractive, exciting and visually creative with colour, tone and space the more readable the design will develop. However, typography is far more complex than originally thought and there are theories to support this which will be discussed in this essay.

Typographic design is an art form, like song lyrics that have meaning and emotion behind it, a graphic designer that understands the basic structure of letterforms will be able to gain a new set off skills and tools for effective expression and communication. Typography can create immense power. One can make “type” talk and using weight and height with letterforms can create character. If one was to look at the letter “E” for example, if the middle bar is same length as the ends of the E’s it feels different than if the mid bar is half the length of the E’s. If one lifts the E above the midline it will make the typeface look like it was drawn in the 1930’s “Art Deco graphic design might be a trend, but it is not a new style. The style dates to the 1920s with the greatest popularity of the style lasting for about 15 years”. Again, if one drops the middle bar below the midline it will look Moderne. “If font is heavy and bold it may give one a feeling of immediacy”. If the font is thin and has a serif form it may feel classical, so before one even reads it one may have sensibility and attitude and if one combines that with a meaning then that is outstanding.

There are several important typography fundamentals to take genuinely, if one desires to keep the viewer interested and totally engaged with a piece of work. Should it be the appearance of a typeface or the readability and legibility. For example, the readability and legibility, although they seem to define the same interests to one another. In the field of typography, they differ and the difference is quite diverse. Firstly, legibility is good when one is able to individualise one personality from another. Readability is more about a block of text and how one can easily read through it. To improve the legibility within the text one must focus on the term kerning, kerning is defined by the space between two specific words. If the letters within a word are spaced too close to each other, it will make way for a very difficult passage of text to be read. One can improve readability by using the term tracking, tracking is the uniform gap between letter forms. “A small amount of positive tracking applied to body text can make it look airy and improves readability”, the extra space allows individual character letters to be easily recognized when the text is viewed by the reader.

A clear understanding of hierarchy results in more striking and expressive communitive design, that serve a much greater audience. “people don’t read, but they scan pages” Steve Krog. To create hierarchy, one should arrange all the headings on a piece of design very satisfactory and unlatch any information connected into manageable pieces, properly using white space so that a reader’s eyes can easily identify structured elements on one’s design. “Typographic hierarchy shows the reader which information to focus on – which is most important and which is simply supporting the main points”. Having no visual hierarchy within design can lead to negative interaction with the viewer, for example the viewer will try to take in all of the informational content while seeing everything at the same level of importance, so the viewer may not even try to solve at what the designer is trying to tell them. “Visual hierarchy helps describe the importance and sequence of elements in a particular composition”.


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