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Factors that affect the selection of types in typography

Typography is the process of arranging a type in a pleasing manner to be able to relay a message. A typographer is a skilled artist who has specialized in the selection and arrangement of type images. Text on a page/ pages or in a book is described in Graphic Design as Typefaces or Fonts. A typeface or font is a particular style of one set of letters, numbers and punctuation marks.

There are hundreds of typefaces with different sizes, variations, and characteristics e.g. italics, bold, heavy, regular, narrow, rounded, display, compressed, light, condensed, extended etc. Some of the typefaces quickly draw the attention of onlookers because of their boldness while others express the feeling of movement and instability. The graphic artist has to understand the distinctive features of all the typefaces before he can effectively select the most suitable one for the execution of a particular product.

The selection of type for Graphic Communication is based on factors such as the type of information, the target audience, legibility, readability, and appropriateness.

1. The type of information

This refers to the kind of message that is to be relayed to the audience. This could be health issues, religious issues, political issues, etc. The graphic artist must know the information to be delivered so that he selects the appropriate font that can best carry the message to the general public. For example, billboards, banners etc. hinged along the major streets must carry heavy, display or extra bold fonts for legibility and readability.

2. The target audience

This is the people the message is to be sent. The graphic artist has to know the sex, age range, tastes or choices, cultural background and location so that he would select the typeface and type size that can effectively send the message. For example, if the graphic artist is selecting a typeface for a book for nursery pupil, he would not select the script, italic or serif type. This is because it may not be legible to the children who are now learning the letters of the alphabets. The best selection of typeface should be a sans serif typeface which is bold with a type size of about 18-20 points. This choice would be definitely different if the target audience were adults or teenagers.

3. Legibility

This refers to how easy the typeface to be selected can be seen and recognized at a distance. This should be very important to the graphic artist because the main objective of our work is to communicate effectively to the people. Therefore, before he selects a particular kind of typeface he should ask himself this important question: ‘Will my targeted audience be able to see and understand the message I am sending to them easily?’ If the selected font style answers it correctly in the affirmative then the choice is good.

4. Readability

This deals with how easy the target audience can combine the letters of the type into meaningful words and sentences as well as trying to decipher the content. Readability concerns itself with how fast the onlooker reads and digests the message portrayed by the graphic artist. It looks at the unity created by the combination of the individual letters into communicable symbols. The graphic artist must select a type that is easily readable.

5. Appropriateness

This is how well the selected typeface harmonizes with the message to be conveyed to the general public. The selected type must also be appropriate to the preferences of the targeted audience.

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Picking fonts is like eating ice cream (and other tips for typography best practices)

This was my first year at Typographics 2018. Typographics 2018 is a conference for typography enthusiasts around the world, that’s held at Cooper Union. There were panelists from San Francisco, Berlin, Buenos Aires, and Japan; it really felt like a truly international experience.

I had the chance to sit in on both the conference and TypeLab parts of Typographics. Here are a few highlights from the panels/breakout sessions that I really enjoyed:

1. Emojis = Pictures + Character (Jennifer Daniel, Google Emoji)

Emojis are images that may translate into different meanings across different devices. Jennifer gave an example about how the “dumpling” emoji looks different across different chat platforms -every culture has a dumpling!

I found an interesting tension in this statement -emojis should have a consistent user experience (across platforms), yet still be personalized to their users.

2. Ubiquitous type is can cause user confusion (Mr. Keedy)

Mr. Keedy created Keedy Sans, a popular font in the 90’s. The font was considered “uncool” 10 years later and used everywhere. Keedy sans is used on teenage girl makeup packaging, as well as winebars. This could create a bad user experience for people because of lack of branding. Last year, Mr. Keedy refreshed his font -to create greater customization and allow Keedy fans to layer the font for interesting visual effects.

3. Braille is a form of typography (Ellen Lupton, Cooper Hewitt)

Ellen talked about how blind individuals read Braille in a unique way -holding it across their body. She also demonstrated a blind person’s experience watching music videos by showing the accessibility voiceover.

4. Brand holds content together with design (Gale Bichler, NYTimes)

Gale foused on how the New York Times (NYT) has branded itself as a publication that experiments with many types of fonts. NYT can play around with different types and massive fonts as illustration. If someone picks up a page from the floor, they can usually tell that it’s from the New York Times because of branding.

5. Picking fonts is like eating ice cream. (Veronika Burian and Jose Scaglione, Type Together)

When combining fonts, look at mechanic and organic feels. Veronika and Jose talked about how people like humanist fonts, with a hint of a calligrapher’s hand. Ideally, you should find a balance typefaces share a common language.

The overarching theme is that typography is wide-ranging and crosses various mediums. Visual languages include symbols, braille, and audio caption. The challenge now lies in how to design the best experiences for these new forms of language.

For more information on visual and ux design, visit: http://www.amelia-sander.com

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