The art of typography

For some people, typography is the ultimate art you can imagine. It’s unobtrusive, innovative, aesthetic, useful, understandable, long lasting and thorough down to last detail. If done right, good typography is almost invisible and yet readable.

In previous paragraph I used some of the 10 principles or commandments for good design created by famous designer Dieter Rams. Well, he is not exactly typography designer. He is industrial designer. I not going to tell you differences between these two types of design, maybe in some future post. Today we will focus solely on typography and why it is so important for every designer in print or web industry to know at least a bit about it. I will use principles of design written above to make it easier for anyone to understand. Let’s dive in.

Good typography should be unobtrusive. Simply said, typography should not disrupt the experience from content. It should allow reader to focus on text without any distraction.

Good typography should be innovative. By innovative I mean that designers should be willing to experiment and explore new ideas while creating or selecting type for their work. When it comes to curiosity, there is only little space for fear.

Good typography should be useful. Typography can be used just for decoration but the purpose or reason for its use should always serve some function. Sometimes, typography is used to get attention of reader to some piece of information. Other times changes whole experience by manipulating the whole look of text (like old writings).

Good typography should be aesthetic. With preserving the functionality designers should make type aesthetic. Make it pleasant for reader’s eyes. Badly designed or selected type can ruin whole experience and thus causing reader to go elsewhere. That’s really not what our goal as designers is.

Good typography should be understandable. When working with type, designer should aim for simplicity. His goal is to provide people with some content through piece of text. Type should not be hard to read or understand. It should allow anyone to fully immerse in the story and forget about everything else. This can be achieved in many ways, for example by choosing the right font, spacing between words and letters, height and width of letters, line height, use of white space, font size, colors etc.

Good typography should be thorough to last detail. This apply for any kind of design and not just typography. When creating something, every detail has to be considered. Nothing can be omitted. Every detail is crucial and important if we want to create truly holistic experience.

Good typography should be long lasting. Take a look at fonts that are used in print or web industry. Many of them are very old, some even older than you or me. This is how good type can be recognized, it withstands the time. Many fonts are only trendy hype and will fade away soon but not the best ones, they will become legends.

Paradox of invisibility. In summary, good typography should be invisible but somehow visible. It should be pleasant and help the reader to understand the content as easy as possible.

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By Alex Devero

I'm Founder/CEO of DEVERO Corporation. Entrepreneur, designer, developer. My mission and MTP is to accelerate the development of humankind through technology.

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