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Letters are things, they are not pictures of thing Individual letters, when arranged in a particular way, represent the sounds of a spoken language and visually express ideas in such a way that another person can understand them in the manner intended.



WHAT \? IS TYPE Typography can best be described as the art or practice of arranging letters and words.


ssentially, typography involves how letters and words are arranged, how they are composed in relation to each other, and the place they occupy within a composition. Typography is the means by which a written idea is given a visual form. Due to the volume and variety of typeface available, the selection of the components of this visual form can dramatically affect the readability of the idea and a reader’s feelings towards it. Typography is one of the most influential elements on the character and emotional quality of a design. It can produce a neutral effect or rouse the passions, it can symbolize artistic, political or philosophical movements, or it can express the personality of an individual or organization. - Ambrose / Harris

Guide to typography


LEAD / ING s the spacing between the baselines of type. The term leading is derived from the practice of placing lead strips between lines type on older hand set printing presses such as a letterpress. Adjusting the leading is also a very useful way of saving or using space on a page. Alter the leading by too much and text can appear distanced and impair legibility, to little and the words can become squashed and begin to overlap.


Guide to typography

JUST / IFIED hen type is justified, space is inserted between words and letters to expand a short line so that both margins align; conversely, in longer lines the space between words and characters is reduced to make them fit the margins. Too much additional space can create gaping holes between words, as well as rivers of white space flowing down your text. Too much compression makes type look cramped and squished, especially when compared to adjacent, generously spaced lines.

Guide to typography


LINE / LENGTH he length of a line of text containing an average number of characters and spaces in the selected typeface and pointsize. The number of characters and spaces per line influences ease of reading averaging at around 12 words per line for best results. Too many and the reader has problems finding the start of each line at the left edge of the column; too few and eye movement becomes choppy.


Guide to typography

BASE LINE / he baseline is the imaginary line upon which a line of text rests. In most typefaces, the descenders on characters such as g or p extend down below the baseline while curved letters such as c or o extend ever-so-slightly below the baseline. The baseline is the point from which other elements of type are measured including x-height and leading. The baseline is also significant in the alignment of drop caps and other page elements.

Guide to typography


MAR GINS he type area is invariably surrounded by a margin zone. A well proportioned margin can vastly enhance the pleasure of reading, framing the content of the page, enhancing legibility. A comfortable margin uses a variation of dimensions for each side. However, it is a good idea not to make the margins too narrow so that inaccurate trimming does not spoil the look of the page.


Guide to typography

HYPH -EN hyphen is the shortest in length of the three. It is used to divide words that break at the end of a line, or to connect parts of compound words. Never use two hyphens in place of an em- or en-dash. This typographically incorrect practice is a holdover from typewriter days, when there were no dashes on the keyboard at all, just hyphens.

Guide to typography


KERN // ING s the adjustment of space between two specific characters, thus the term kerning pair. Most often, kerning implies a reduction of space, but it can also mean the addition of space. Kern pairs are created to improve the spacing between two letters when the normal spacing is less than ideal. A perfect example is the spacing between a cap ‘A’ and ‘V.’ Typically, both ‘A’ and ‘V’ would be spaced so the terminals of their diagonal strokes nearly touch the vertical stroke in the adjacent letter, like an ‘H.’ When a ‘A’ and ‘V’ are set next to each other, however, the spacing looks too open. Kerning adjusts the spacing to be optically correct.


Guide to typography

TYPE // WEIGHT eight is the overall thickness of the lines that make up a typeface. The different weights can be ultra thin or ultra light, extra light, light, normal or roman, bold, extra bold, ultra bold or black. Each of these weights, depending on the typeface chosen, can create a different mood to a design piece. An ultra thin through thin weight on a typeface can suggest an elegant look to a design. This suggests a higher end, modern look to a design. Using the thickness and size of type can help create a sense of hierarchy. Widths can also range from ultra condensed, normal expanded to ultra expanded.

Guide to typography


X // HEIGHT height is the distance between the baseline of a line of type and tops of the main body of lower case letters. The x-height is a factor in typeface identification and readability. Typefaces with very large x-height relative to the total height of the font have shorter ascenders and descenders and thus less white space between lines of type. Sans Serif typefaces typically have large x-heights. In typefaces with small x-heights, other letter parts such as ascenders and descenders may become more visually noticeable.


Guide to typography

RAG SETTING “rag” refers to the irregular or uneven vertical margin of a block of type. Usually it’s the right margin that’s ragged but either or both margins can be ragged. When setting type with a ragged margin, pay attention to the shape that the ragged line endings make. A good rag goes in and out from line to line in small increments. A poor rag creates distracting shapes of white space in the margin. Slight adjustments in point size or column width will help correct this.

Guide to typography


PARA GRAPH INDENT first-line in­dent is the most com­mon way to sig­nal the start of a new para­graph. Typically, a first-line in­dent should be no small­er than the point size of the text, oth­er­wise it’ll be hard to see. The in­dent should be no big­ger than four times the point size, oth­er­wise the first line will seem dis­con­nect­ed from the left edge of the text block. So a para­graph set in 12 point should have a first-line in­dent of 12–48 points.


Guide to typography

ORPHAN WIDOW / idow is a line of text at the end of a paragraph separated from the rest of the text, meaning that this line is either in the next column or in the next page. It can also appear as an opening line of a paragraph at the bottom of the column or a page, thus separated from the rest of the paragraph. Orphan on the other hand is a word or few words in its own row that end a paragraph, thus creating too much white space between paragraphs.

Guide to typography



Guide to typography

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