When it comes to design, typography can often be the unsung hero. It's the silent partner, playing a leading role in making sure your message is communicated (and therefore heard) loud and clear. With that being said, choosing the right typeface for a design project is often a tricky task. In this blog post we'll dive into the world of typography, exploring the power of typefaces and how to choose the right ones for your project.
First things first, let's talk about the basics of typography. A typeface is a family of glyphs (this includes letters, numerals, and symbols). Typefaces often span multiple weights, usually (but not always) including upper case and lower case characters, alongside italics - an example being Helvetica. A font on the other hand is a specific weight and point size, an example being Helvetica Regular set at 11 point.
With this differentiation made there is a dizzying array of typefaces out there to choose from. So where do you begin? The easiest way is to break typefaces down into broad categories. You've got your classic serif typefaces (think Times New Roman), your modern sans-serif typefaces (think Helvetica) and all sorts in between; ranging from script and display to monospaced and slab serif. Each typeface carries with it a unique personality and style, it's important to choose one that aligns with your message and the overall look and feel of your design project.
So, how do you choose the right typeface? It all starts with understanding the tone and motivation behind your message. Are you trying to demonstrate an aura of professionalism and elegance? A serif typeface might be the way to go. Are you trying to convey a sense of modernity and simplicity? A sans-serif typeface would probably be your go to. It's important to choose a typeface that appropriately embodies what it is that you’re trying to communicate. That being said, it isn't a strict science, there’s plenty of room for experimentation and boundary crossing… Sometimes going against the grain carries a message more effectively than conforming to the status quo.
Let's talk about the power of pairing typefaces. Good design often involves multiple typefaces living in harmony alongside one another. The key is usually (but not always) to choose two or three typefaces that complement each other in order to create a cohesive look. A common design choice is to set a more decorative typeface aside for use at large scales across headers or titles, whilst reserving a typeface that prioritises legibility and minimises fatigue for body copy.
This segways into the importance of legibility in design. We’re all for experimentation with different typographic styles, colours, weights, and sizes; in fact we actively encourage it within our practice. What has to be kept in mind at all times is that every design choice you make has a direct impact on your audience's experience. At its core, graphic design serves as a vessel through which a message is communicated. If an audience has trouble understanding what you’re trying to say, then you may as well not say it at all. It’s important to make calculated decisions at every point of the design process, ask yourself questions. Is the point size too small? Is there enough contrast? Is this tiresome to read? You’ll thank yourself at the end.
In conclusion, typography is an extremely powerful tool in design and choosing the right typeface can make or break your design. It's important to choose a typeface that aligns with your message and the overall look and feel of your design. Remember, when it comes to typography, less can often be more. Pay attention to size and spacing, prioritise legibility, ask questions and don’t be afraid to experiment. With these tips in mind, you'll be able to determine the perfect typographic solution for your design, making sure your message is heard loud and clear.