Typography Matters: Part 1
By Jesse Selz, TVG Graphic Designer
Content marketing has become one of the primary ways of retaining customers, attracting new clients, and generating leads, sales, and profit for a company. While the content itself on a website is incredibly important, another crucial aspect of content marketing is typography. For many non-designers, typography often isn’t given a lot of consideration—but there is no doubt it plays a massive role in messaging and communication. Typography is an element of a brand’s strength or weakness; it’s a tool used to create interest in a product or service, a way to keep cohesion, and highlights a company’s central message.
While your default black fonts, standard weights, basic layouts and formatting options may be an appropriate look for some forums, a little bit of typographic thoughtfulness goes a long way and can be a great advertising tool for your company. In order to be smart about making these creative changes, you don’t have to be an artist or designer…but it’s important you fully understand the basics of typography.
Typography simply refers to the style, technique and arrangement of typeset. Often times, typography is referred to as an art, as it can be incredibly creative and innovative. Typography is great for enhancing a theme, adding personality, increasing emphasis of an idea or reinforcing a thought, demonstrating emotion, creating interest, and crafting aesthetic appeal.
Learn the Language
You might think that typography is limited to font and color, but typography is actually much more than that. Here are the elements of typography that you should familiarize yourself with:
Typeface: Typefaces are probably the most straightforward element of typography, and simply refer to the name of text style that is used. A few basic examples of well-known typefaces you probably have installed on your computer right now are Helvetica, Times New Roman, Georgia and Arial.
Font: A font isn’t just the design style of the letters, like Helvetica, Futura, Baskerville, etc. Rather, font refers to both the specific style of typeface, as well as the typeface’s decided width and height. For example, Century is a typeface, but Century, size 12, bold, is a font. Although in the digital age, the term “font” is frequently synonymous with “typeface”.
Tracking: Tracking is the space between characters in a text, which is usually referred to as letter spacing. Tracking is usually pretty standard, but can be adjusted to affect text density.
Kerning: Kerning is similar to tracking, but instead of referring to space alone, it refers specifically to the white space in between letters and characters.
Line Length: As it’s name suggests, line length refers to the length of text running right to left, or horizontally, across the page. In order to change the line length, the margins must be adjusted.
Leading: Leading is another important measurement and typographic term that everyone should become familiar with. Leading measures the vertical space between lines of text. An interesting fact you may not be aware of is that the word “leading” comes from the physical piece of lead which was once used in the mechanical printing process to separate lines of text.
Each element of typography is important, and can influence how your page reads. Most people tend to focus on fonts and typefaces alone, but experimenting with kerning, line length, leading, and tracking can dramatically change your work. It can also alter the quality or professional aesthetic, tone, message, legibility, visual interest and an abundance of other factors that are often neglected. Unless you’re a designer, it’s likely that you haven’t taken much time to really think about your typographic choices and to refine/edit them accordingly.
Stay tuned for the next edition of Typography Matters!