Typography 101 for Logo Designers

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Typography refers to the layout and design of letters and characters to create visual images of words and lettering that can be seen, read and can be used to convey a message. It involves the careful selection of different font types and the careful use of space including length, width, depth, of letters and characters to create an attractive, legible design.

Here Are Some Tips for New Designers:

  • Learn the technical terminology in typography to help you understand better and communicate better with other designers. For example, do not know what glyphs, kerning, tracking and ligatures are?
  • Typography 101 for Logo Designers - Hints and TipsWith the many typefaces (this can be said to be the family of fonts for instance Helvetica Regular or Helvetica Italic) and fonts (a font is one particular style of typeface for instance Helvetica Regular is one font while Helvetica Italic is another font) available and with new ones being created all the time, it can be overwhelming and difficult to choose the right typeface for your purpose. One way to get around this is to learn some basic typography rules – some do’s and dont’s that can guide you along the way.
  • The main purpose of typography is to communicate through words, letters and characters. The selected typeface should convey not just a message but can also be used to generate certain emotions. For instance the use of comic sans conveys a humorous or laid back feeling as opposed to other fonts, whereas serif conveys a more professional feeling.
  • Visibility of logos is paramount. Choosing the right fonts for the size of the logo you are designing can mean the difference between a “d” appearing as a round blob or as a defined letter. Do not choose a typeface because you like it. Choose it because it works for the purpose for which you are designing.
  • Some fonts tend to join two letters together – also referred to as kerning. This can create illegible lettering and appear as a typographical error. Where this happens be sure to create a space between letters.
  • Typography 101 for Logo DesignersUse of different fonts on a logo or web page breaks monotony and creates a visually interesting appearance. As much as possible choose fonts that contrast and work well together to prevent the design from appearing busy. For this you may need to understand the general classifications of fonts so that you are able to pick either those from the same grouping or from a complimentary grouping. For example some typefaces are defined as and considered to be “decorative”. Would they work well with typefaces that are described as and considered to be “modern”?
  • Understand the composition of different type faces and be able to describe them. This will help you articulate what you like or do not like about a particular typeface instead of using vague language that does not communicate well to your audience or client. Being able to say “this typeface causes a ligature between letters which makes the words illegible” is better than saying “this typeface looks odd”.
  • Use of color should work with your chosen typeface and not against it. Consider that your chosen typeface or font will not work on its own – it may be part of a bigger concept, picture or design. For instance a logo may have to be of a particular color as per the brand. Whether the letters and colored and the background plain or patterned it should all work together to get the desired look, feel and message.

Taking time to learn some of these and other basics in typography can help you move from beginner to expert in no time. You can see another great resource here: A Beautifully Illustrated Glossary Of Typographic Terms You Should Know along with great picture representations of various font setups.

Chris is a father of 4 and works full time as a network engineer. He loves The Office, P & R, brewing (and drinking) beer, and of course Web Design and SEO.

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