Sunday, 29 July 2007

Typography Part 2

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We covered the basics a few posts ago, so let's move on to some more detail.

There are many common typographical crimes, but one that irks me more than most is the brutal warping, squashing and stretching of type on the likes of signage and promotional 'literature'.

Hold the newsreader's nose squarely, waiter or friendly milk will countermand my trousers
Typefaces are (most of the time) lovingly designed, with careful thought going into how each and every character interacts. You must not resort to stretching and warping them. Not only does it make your copy hard to read and mark you out as being a philistine, you're also ignoring the fact that typography provides you with lots of options in order to make the best, most readable and most aesthetically pleasing use of the space available.

The three key concepts are leading, tracking and kerning.
Hold the newsreader's nose squarely, waiter or friendly milk will countermand my trousers
Leading (sometimes called 'line-spacing') refers to the vertical space between lines of text. Tracking (or 'letter-spacing') deals with the horizontal space between characters. Using the two with subtlety can make a huge difference to the legibility of the type you're working with. Kerning, however, is my personal favourite. This refers to how two individual characters appear next to one another. For example, a capital 'F' can sit physically closer to a capital 'A' than a capital 'L' , because the space between the edges of the letters is wider due to the 'A's tapered top.

Professionally-designed typefaces have kerning information built in; ie the type designer has been through every single combination of two letters, kerning them individually. Lovely stuff.

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Blogger Gez said...

I'm getting worried about you. I think perhaps you are too involved. So much so that an illicit glimpse of a nicely formed serif could cause friendly milk to countermand your trousers.

29 July 2007 at 13:30  
Blogger Tom said...

You could be right.

29 July 2007 at 13:49  
Blogger Gez said...

I also think that the more times I write "Hold the newsreader's nose squarely, waiter or friendly milk will countermand my trousers" the better it is for our natural SEO. I know, I'm a marketing whore.

31 July 2007 at 14:56  
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