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A Basic Introduction to Typography

A Basic Introduction to Typography

Words and text are one of the most essential components of an application, usually making more than 60% of the total content. Words are not only used to depict the main idea of the project but also to provide the users with guidelines and other relevant information about it. These words are considered to be the key essence of an application, having the ability to control the possibility of its success. Thus, these should hold the power to make the user fall in love at first sight too. While looking at a digital interface or a graphic, the first thing that attracts the user is its design. But, when specifically talking about text, its “design” should not only be pleasing to the eye but also be comfortably readable. The term that covers all these important factors is called typography.

What is Typography?

Wikipedia defines typography in the following words:

“Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed.”

Put another way, we can say that hieing a typography services is the practice of setting different elements of the face of a typed character in such a way, that the character becomes both beautiful and easily legible to the reader. The main elements that have to be considered while designing the typography of a character are its font style, appearance, and structure.

While simply making the text clearer and visually appealing to the user, good typography also adds further features to the interface such as a strong visual hierarchy, a solid graphical balance, a profoundly set tone, and, if used cleverly, a unique recognition for your brand.

  • Fonts and Typefaces in Typography

Two popular terms that are usually used while referring to typography are Typeface and Font. Despite often being confused as the same, these both are actually very different. A typeface is a design style which consists of numerous characters of different sizes and weight, while a font is the graphical representation of a text character. That is to say, a typeface is a group of related fonts, whereas a font can be described as a member of that typeface and refers to the multiple styles that create it.

There are four main categories of typefaces:

  • Serif: Characters having extra decorative strokes
  • Sans Serif: Straight and minimally designed characters
  • Decorative: Richly styled and decorated characters
  • Script: Characters imitating handwriting or brush strokes

Most designers tend to use a maximum of three of these typefaces and try to construct a clear yet consistent hierarchy of the content through these. Other than these styles, other factors like the font size, weight, and color are also used to build a contrast, making the text more understandable and compelling.

Type Properties

Some of the basic terms that define a typeface are mentioned as follows:

  • Baseline: The imaginary line on which the characters “sit” or rest
  • Cap height: The height of the uppercase letters from the baseline
  • X-height: The height of the main body of lower case letters (especially x)
  • Ascender: The part of some lowercase characters that extend above the x-height
  • Descender: The part of some lowercase characters that extend below the baseline
  • Leading: The distance between two adjacent lines (mostly baselines)
  • Tracking: The distance between two consecutive characters (also called letter-spacing)
  • Weight: The thickness of a character’s stroke (e.g. thin, light, bold, extra-bold, black)

Points to Remember While Hiring Typographer

Like any design term, it is difficult to say that a technique would be successful for all users. While most might like one kind of design, there is always a group of people, no matter how small, that would not be fascinated by that very same interface. Still, there are some factors that should be considered while choosing typography that would fit your interface more efficiently. These are described below:

  • Font

There are several points that should be considered while selecting a font. For example, the font should be reflecting the tone of the textual content, should match the theme of the application, and most importantly, should be easily readable.

  • Size

The size of the font mostly depends on the type of device the application is going to be used on. These sizes are measured in inches, millimeters, pixels, or picas. The ideal font size used generally by most of the desktop applications is 16px. Also, when mixing different typefaces in an application, it is suggested to pick the ones having similar x-heights.

  • Leading

The vertical space between each line of text is called the leading of a typeface. Also playing a significant role in increasing the legibility of a piece of text, the general rule used for setting the value of the line-space is to keep it 1.25 to 1.5 times larger than the font size.

  • Tracking

Tracking is described as the whitespace between characters. It is mostly uniform throughout similar letters of a typeface, increasing with the decrease in font size and vice versa. This enhances the readability of the text. Similarly, capital case letters have more letter-spacing as compared to small cases.

  • Line Length

Line length refers to the average number of words or characters in a text line. It is necessary to not keep this value large so the content is comfortable to be read by the user. Generally, the suggested number of words is 10 to 15 per line, with almost 50 to 70 characters.

  • Hierarchy

The hierarchy of the content is another factor that contributes majorly in attracting the user towards it. It makes the text clearer and also gives it the essence of being beautiful and well-managed. To achieve a good hierarchy, important points and headlines should be highlighted by contrasting them with the normal text body, in terms of color, size, weight, or even style.

  • Alignment

Just like hierarchy, alignment also makes the text neat and easy on the user’s eye. Depending upon the type of the application and the content, the alignment can either be set as Left, Right, Centered, or Justified, although the mostly left alignment is preferred.

Conclusion

Typography plays an important part in making a User Interface design effective and appealing. Aside from enhancing the look of the application, good typography also sets its overall tone, ensuring a great user experience. However, it should be made sure that the chosen typeface is attractive and easily readable by the users.

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