Introduction to Typography

The first brief that we worked on was ‘Word’ which helped me to understand typography in more depth and thought me more about the history of type and the terminology of it.

I have learned the basics of typography and how it all started, from Pictograms, Hieroglyphics all the way to Greek Manuscripts and Roman square capitals.

I learned a lot on how type can be used to describe the meaning of words and use it in a way that imagery is no longer needed.

This was basically our introduction to typography and a way to get us going and put us on the right track with typography, more like training us for what was about to come during our career as students or junior designers. As every graphic designer, we need to understand the structure of our subject, the start of how it all started.

We looked at the history of type and different ways people understand typography, examples from David’s presentation on Monday last week.

  1. The architecture of ideas and the making of language?
  2. The sculpting of experience?
  3. The management of letters?
  4. Painting with words?

We looked up the key movements in the art such as Art nouveau, Arts and Crafts movements, The futurists, Dadaism, De Stijl, Russian Constructivism, etc…

We’ve been taught the history of type and how it all started, from Pictograms, Hieroglyphics all the way to Greek Manuscripts and Roman square capitals.

Serif and Sans Serif

In typography, a serif is the little extra stroke found at the end of main vertical and horizontal strokes of some letterforms. Serifs fall into various groups and can be generally described as hairline (hair), square (slab), or wedge and are either bracketed or unbracketed.


However, we have also been shown and taught about the rules in graphic design or font design. There are key rules every graphic designer/typographer must consider when working with type.

  • Kerning:

Kerning is the adjustment of space between characters. This might not sound like is much but it is highly recommendable to check that out before you hand in a final piece.


The aim of kerning is to ensure that the space between each character is visually even.

  • Readability/Legibility:

There is a number of things that can affect the readability and legibility of a text. The most common mistake is the low contrast between the text and background.

The use of upper case may make the reader feel like they are being YELLED AT. It may also, make it harder for the reader to distinguish the letterforms. All the letters are the same X-hight, it doesn’t give the eye that flowing up and down feeling to smoothly read throughout.

Another factor is the size of the text, we need to think about our audience on whether they are having troubles reading it. A simple way of checking that is to print out the work and ask someone to look at it for us.


  • Tracking

Tracking is similar to kerning, the only difference is that tracking helps to adjust the space between groups of letters rather than individual letters like kerning does. Tracking helps the overall character compactness. In other words tracking would make the lines of type even.

  • Leading

Leading is the space between the lines and usually, helps with the readability of a block of text.


Within the same brief, David also talked to us about “Layout, Hierarchy, and Grids”

  • Hierarchy

Hierarchy is one of the most important technique for effectively communicate with large blocks of text. Hierarchy refers to the typesetting, it is a system for organizing type through an order, allowing the reader to easily go through the lines, and it helps the reader eye to effortlessly see where the next section begins and ends. Also, it may be quite helpful if you want to make your page/poster or article look nice and sharp.

There are four different types of alignment altogether, here are three:untitled-1

Left aligned is the most common used form. I think left align is the most easily legible and is also easy to read as in the western writing, you meant to write and read from left to right.

In contrast, centered text is widely used in a variety of publications, posters, invitations, business cards and occasionally flyers as well. Centered text is more flexible and makes it easy to balance out a bit of type and make for an appealingly pleasing type arrangement. Though, it is not recommended for large blocks of text, as it is quite hard for the eye to skip to the next line.

Right Aligned type it aligns the type to the right. This is mostly used for branding or for small pieces of type in certain publications. Right Alignment shouldn’t be used for large blocks of text at all as the eye might mistake where the new line begins and tends to read as if it was aligned to the left.


And, the fourth one is Justified type:

In some cases justified type is fantastic it works well with novels, magazine text, sometimes posters, despite all that justified text has a lot of issues in terms of word spacing, the point size of the type, text box adjustments, and sentence shortenings, but sometimes the most common way of fixing this error it is to simply adjust the kerning, tracking, leading of the block of text.

  • Layout

The basic form of a layout is positioning of different elements on the page in order to create a balance between the positive space and the design elements. Modernists promote the idea about the principles of balance, contrast and a clear path for the eye.

  • Line Length

There is a rule that most of the designers out there must follow and that is the length of the lines of a paragraph. Line Length is the amount of words per line and the amount of characters including spaces on each line. The average must be around 30 to 40 characters including spaces otherwise your sentences will be uneven. Having too many words on one line of a paragraph will affect the readability and will trouble the eye traveling from line to line, plus it will ultimately look boring.

For example:( Note, how this blog that you are currently reading right now is strict on the Line Length as well.)text_line_length

Type Terminology/Anatomy

We started off with some research such as looking at the type terminology in-depth and understanding of type terminology. The type terminology is the structure of the type and a basic system for classifying typefaces. For example, the Humanist letterforms are almost the same or connected to calligraphy and the motion of the hands. However, designers nowadays have continued to develop and improve typeface based on historic characteristics.

We have been asked to come up and trace three art related words and label all the parts relative to the anatomy of a typeface.


It’s important that we understand the type classification/anatomy as when working with typography we need to know which typeface works the best for us and how to apply it wisely. Also, as graphic designers, we need to know how to manipulate type in a way to describe the meaning of what we are trying to communicate through using the right terminology with the right set of images.

As mentioned above, I think typography is simply just another form of communication but with a text. If we apply the right terminology or typeface innovatively we can inform the audience on what we are trying to communicate just by using the one good typeface in a creative manner.





Terminology can make a big contribution on how we communicate a message/meaning by using the appropriate typeface, to the appropriate body of text.

I learned how type can be used to describe the meaning of words and use it in a conceptual innovative way that imagery might not longer be needed.

Also, we have been given a small task to do in groups of 3 to 4 and, have been asked to go around Cardiff city center and find the logos/pieces of text using the following three type terminologies. My group and I got to look up for ( Humanistic, Bifurcated and Superior Letter ) After finding these letters we had to go back to the studio and redraw one letter of our choice from the examples we found. We’ve then been asked to cut out our drawings into stencils and place them together with the other groups.

The outcome was tremendous, we created this vernacular typographic image of Cardiff city within our letters. The experience I had during this was good too, as it was only the second week since the course started I was getting to know new people and had some fun as well.


Anatomy of type referece Martin Silverta
Line Lenght photograph by Jrinkerdesign.

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