Lecture 112

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Lecture Notes for Lecture 112: Typography


Typefaces (definition of terms)


  • Styles:
    • Regular
    • Italic
    • Bold
  • They are often used to provide contrast and emphasis
  • Choose style from within the font family, not through the operating system


  • Refers to the lightness or darkness of letterforms marked by changes in stroke (line) width
  • Weights:
    • Light
    • Medium
    • Bold
  • Design By: Giampietro+Smith


  • Refers to different variations within a typeface family
  • Widths:
    • Condensed
    • Compressed
    • Extended
  • Design By: Capsule


  • Refers to the height of the x
  • lowercase letters without ascenders or descenders
  • easily determined by looking at the letter “x”


  • Refers to the height of capital letters
  • cap-height is measured from baseline to capline
  • x-height and cap-height vary by typeface and are useful comparisons
  • Design By: Henderson Bromstead Art Co.


  • white spaces located inside and around letterforms
  • affect legibility, readability and density
  • thin fonts at large type sizes have open counters that can overpower light strokes
  • the opposite is true for bold fonts
  • Design By: Giampietro+Smith

small capitals

  • complete sets of uppercase letters that are the same height as lowercase letters
  • often used when large capitals would result in unwanted emphasis (acronyms/abbreviations)
  • Design By: Kontour

lining and non-lining figures

  • lining figures are a set of numerals with the same width and height as full capitals
  • non-lining figures share the same x-height as lowercase letters and include ascenders and descenders
  • Design By: Kontour


  • a specially designed character produced by combining two or three characters together
  • basically ligatures replace letters that would otherwise collide
  • Design By: nb:studio

choosing the right font...

typeface selection

  • what is the longevity of the piece?
  • what is the purpose of the piece?
  • innovative or outdated?
  • traditional or too conservative?
  • Design By: No.Parking

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  • compare side by side for...
    • readability
    • emotion evoked
    • legibility
    • reflect the needs of the client and the viewer
  • Design By: Capsule
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combining typefaces

  • A single type family with a range of fonts will satisfy any project
  • Adding multiple type families extends the possibilities within the design
  • Design By: nb:studio

combining typefaces

  • Serif & Sans Serif typefaces are typically combined if...
  • they have similar x-heights and widths
  • Big Caslon and Myriad Pro

combining typefaces

  • Remember display and script typefaces for titles, headings and sub-headings
  • Design By: Kontour
  • Design By: No.Parking

designing with type

legibility and readability

  • essential for successful communication
  • legibility = recognition of individual letter forms and their relative position to other letters
  • readability = how the typography is presented to the viewer as words, lines and paragraphs
  • Design By: No.Parking

objective representation

  • practical and straightforward
  • clear and ordered presentation of information
  • Design By: No.Parking

subjective representation

  • conceptual and interpretive
  • heavily focused on theme or idea that creates an experience
  • Design By: Kontour

macro perspectives

  • the overall design layout
  • establishes the format of the composition
  • contains the typographic hierarchy and the placement of elements
  • Design By: Giampietro+Smith
  • Design By: Giampietro+Smith

micro perspectives

  • attention to small details like kerning, spacing, and ragging
  • ensure a clean presentation and consistent application
  • Design By: Giampietro+Smith
  • Design By: Kontour

symmetry and asymmetry

  • symmetrical = balance and harmony
  • asymmetrical = activity and motion
  • Design By: Kontour


  • the horizontal and vertical position of typography within the margins
  • alignment creates visual relationships between the elements of design
  • Design By: Kontour
  • Design By: Kontour

typographic color

  • refers to the density of typographic elements and their perceived gray value
  • the overall lightness or darkness of the page
  • Design By: Kontour

type size

  • measured in points
  • changes in type size often result in nice hierarchy of elements
  • develop a proportionate scale of type sizes
  • Design By: Meghan Eplett


  • lowercase letters are more readable than uppercase letters


  • adjusts spacing between individual letters
  • used to correct letter collisions and unwanted spaces
  • allows the text to flow and read smoothly
  • Check: Ty, Va, Yi, 11, 19


  • adjusts spacing between words, lines and paragraphs
  • can greatly improve readability
  • also influences typographic color
  • don’t track lowercase letters!
  • Design By: Kontour


  • space between lines of text measured from one baseline to the next
  • tall x-heights, heavy typefaces and sans serifs need more leading that shorter, lighter wider and serif typefaces
  • Design By: Kontour
  • Design By: Meghan Eplett