Typography 101 – A Brief Primer About Fonts


Typography is a science as well as an art. Typographists spend hours upon hours choosing the perfect font for a situation. The kind of fond you use can have a huge impact on the way you or your written material is perceived. A classy, old school font can immediately give you a sophisticated air, while a new age, modern, quirky font can give your work an indie feel.

Open up your word processor and go through your font list. Of the hundreds of fonts that you may have, only a handful are found on most computers. This means that if you plan on using any exotic fonts on a website or in a document, you will have to find a way to get them to install on your reader’s computer (an unnecessary, often difficult task).

What are the most commonly available fonts? Usually, these are Times New Roman, Georgia, Arial, Verdana, Helvetica, Tahoma, Courier and Impact. While your readers’ computer may have other common fonts, these eight are found in almost all computers. In other words, these are “safe fonts”.

In fonts, there are two broad classifications: serif, and sans-serif. Serif is the little line at the end of lines that make up letters. Take a close look at the letters in a font like Times New Roman. The tapering edge on the end of the two lines that make up the ‘A’ alphabet, for instance, are called ‘serifs’. Common serif fonts are Georgia, Times New Roman, and Helvetica.

Sans-serif fonts are the ones that do not have any serif (“sans” means “without”). Common sans-serif fonts are Verdana, Arial, Tahoma, Impact.

Obviously, the kind of font you use will have a lot to do with the purpose of your creation. Most websites use fonts like Arial, Verdana, or Georgia/Times New Roman. Most letters use a font like Times New Roman or Georgia. In a sales letter, however, you have the luxury of using a variety of fonts to make your letter more visually appealing. Same goes for logos or slogans. The fonts used in a CV ought to be classy, while those used in a comic strip can be topsy-turvy and quirky. The right font can add a whole layer of visual complexity to any printed material, so make sure that you choose the right one.


Source by John Newcomb


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