Much Ado about Web Typography
If there was one thing that a lot of people entering
the South Colorado Springs graphic arts program
are surprised to find out they need a thorough
understanding of, it’s typography. At its most basic
form, typography is everything to do with text.
It is the font style, size, leading, character spacing,
etc. When looking at a page, you often don’t think
about what kind of font was used for the header vs.
the body text.
Nor are you particularly concerned with the spacing
of lines of text. The most you’ll likely see is (1) attractiveness, and (2) readability.
You will always notice if something looks off, but you’ll rarely notice when it’s spot on. The reason for
that is that someone spent so much time selecting a font style, size, color, spacing, etc. that you forget
that typography even exists.
Subtleties of Typography
The best typography is the one that no one notices. The reader only sees the message in the words.
They aren’t distracted by the details of the font. Hence, those studying in the graphic arts program in
South Colorado Springs need a thorough understanding of typography.
So since there’s been quite the ado of an
introduction for typography, the last half of this is
a brief introduction to what you need to know
about typography to succeed on the web. First
off, you need to understand why sans serifs don’t
generally work for body text.
A serif is a font that contains little tails on the
edges of every letter. They are found in fonts like
Minion Pro and Times New Roman.
A sans serif lacks those little tails, making them more straight and modern looking. They are commonly
seen in fonts like Calibri (the default Microsoft Word font), Helvetica, and Arial.
Serifs are used for body font because they more closely imitate human handwriting. They look like the
little imperfections people make when they write by hand.
Because it’s familiar, it’s easier on the eyes to read for long periods of time. Sans serifs on the other
hand are unnatural to the eye.
They don’t look like they’re written by hand and hence take a bit more concentration to focus on. Since
body text is usually long and complicated, the designer wants to put that text in an easier-to-read font,
like a serif.
You don’t want to tire your reader out before they get to the good stuff. Use your sans serifs for titles
and subtitles as they are powerful, but use serifs on body text to increase readability.
Principle of Contrast
Second, remember the principle of contrast. White text on a yellow background will be extremely hard
Have your text color contrast from the background so it will stick out. Contrast the size of titles against
body text so that your reader can
intuitively figure out what sections of
text are related to each other.
Third, make sure your text is easy to
read. This means that it’s not too small
and not too large.
It’s easy to scan, but also easy to read
in depth. Don’t get too fancy with your
style, even if you adore the font.
Keep the text as readable as possible to
improve comprehension. The point isn’t to make the font beautiful, it’s to make it unnoticeable (and
that’s beautiful in typography).
If nothing else, remember these three rules when working your way through the graphic arts program in
South Colorado Springs. Your designs will become functional, useful, and beautiful to your audience that
Photo Credit: Stephanie Lamphere, arnoKath, Joshua Thomas