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A Layman's Guide to Anatomy of Typography

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

What’s the fuss around Typography?

Is Typography so important in content?

And if so, how does one go about it?

A Layman's Guide To Anatomy of Typography
"The best way to bring personality and performance to websites, products, and content, is through great design and technology." - Google

In essence, Typography is the art of arranging letters and text in a way that makes the copy legible, clear, and visually appealing to the reader. Typography is used in daily life, both in the digital and print worlds. We can see typography being used in the newspaper, magazines, textual content in image and videos, and of course, blogs and articles like the one you’re reading right now. All of these texts are written in a particular way of font style, appearance, and structure, that aim to elicit certain emotions and convey specific messages. A mixture of fonts and typeface makes a Typography.

Typography can be dated back to the 11th century, during the innovation of movable type. Before the digital age, typography was a specialized craft associated with books and magazines, and eventually public works. The first example of typography can be seen in the Gutenberg Bible, which kick-started a typography revolution in the west. Fun fact: the style of type used in the Gutenberg Bible is now known as Textura, and you’ll find it in the font drop-down menu on major desktop applications today!

Typography is so much more than just choosing beautiful fonts. It is a vital component of user interface design. Good typography establishes a strong visual hierarchy, provides a graphic balance, and sets the overall tone. Typography should guide and inform the reader, optimize readability and accessibility, and ensure excellent user experience.

"Typography is the soul, the fonts are the brains, and the typeface is the heart of the content. These elements, when put together, build upon the characteristics of the persona, which then appeal to the reader."
Explaining Typography

Fonts are a part of the typeface, and it's specific style. For instance, if Arial is a typeface, then Arial Bold is a font. The font consists of one specific point size, weight, width, and other styling elements, such as the italic style.

Fonts are one of the most important part of graphical designs. The engagement of the reader is directly dependable on the type of fonts you choose to use. Fonts have their own characteristics, their own feel, and their own persona. A perfect combination of these elements leads to a good design that appeals to the audience. For instance, serif fonts include a small line at the end of a stroke or letter. On the other hand, non-serif fonts do not include the extra line.

Many of us do not give importance to a font used in our day to day life, particularly the difference between the serif and the non-serif fonts (as shown in the image). Each one of these fonts has a particular sense, as to how it will have an impact on the reader. Most commonly used fonts, such as in a typical newspaper are Times New Roman (serif fonts). Studies say that it is easier to read when it’s bulk writing.

In the age-old debate around fonts, the topic of serif and non-serif fonts always seem to surface with many having a strong opinion about which type of font is better. The debate is often attributed to the legibility of each type of font.

Comparing serif and sans-serif fonts

One of the first determinations to be made when selecting a typeface for text is choosing between serif and sans-serif. This particular decision should be based on several key points around the situational context. Once decided, your typeface search will be narrowed down quite considerably.

Although serifs are considered to be decorative, their appearance may well serve a higher purpose. Serif typefaces have historically been credited with increasing both the readability and reading speed of long passages of text, as they help the eye travel across a line, especially if lines are long or have relatively open word spacing (as is with some justified type).

You can check for yourself, comparing the writeups below as to which font is more readable and appealing.

Comparing Arial and Times New Roman Fonts

Overall, it all depends on how you perceive a font. Big brands put a lot of effort into the visualization of the fonts as they want to engage as many customers as possible, and invest time with their brand.

So, for the next time, you will now not only be able to tell the difference between the serif and the sans-serif, but also increase the appeal in your textual content. Do keep an eye out!

What you'll need for a great design is a good typeface, an attractive font, and a fine perspective.
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