Anatomy of Type
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable and appealing when displayed. In VCE Visual Communication Design, ‘type’ is an element of design that is used to communicate thoughts and ideas. Type can be bold, italics, regular, uppercase, lowercase, handwritten, contemporary, script, serif/sans serif and emotive.
Type can also be used to create logos, like the Coca-Cola logo, which is iconic for being universally recognisable. Frank M Robinson originally designed the logo in 1885 by experimenting with an elaborate Spencerian script which is a form of penmanship characteristic of that time. The cursive script-like font with the swopping tail of the letter C has helped the company build the global brand recognised by billions today.
Fonts and Font Families
A font is a set of printable or displayable text characters in a specific style and size. Times New Roman, for example, is a familiar font which originated in 1931 and was designed to be used for The Times (a British Newspaper). The typeface forms part of a font family which therefore offers the user some variations of the font, such as; bold and italics.
Designers will use font families to keep the visual communication looking consistent. In the illustration above, the two letters have similar characteristics; the stroke width and the serif characteristics subtly change when it is bold. With that, a bold typeface can be used to emphasise certain letters/words and bring attention to something within a document or visual communication. A bold, heavyweight font can also enhance the legibility and make it easier to read the characters form a distance.
Serif and Sans-serif
Some fonts will have serifs which are small tails at the end of a letter’s stroke. Times New Roman is a common example of a serif font as seen in the example below. Serifs often make the typeface easier to read because it leads the eye from letter to letter. Because of this, it is often used as body text in publications such as newspapers and magazines.
Sans (meaning “without”) serif typefaces do not have the small tails at the end fo letter’s stroke. Comparatively, san-serif fonts look more modern and contemporary which may appeal to a younger audience. An example of a sans-serif font is Gill Sans, Arial and Helvetica.
Tracking and Kerning
Tracking is a term used to define the spacing between each character within a word. When you increase the tracking, you are increasing the consistent degree of space to affect visual density in a line or block of text. In the example below, the tracking has been increased, which therefore spreads the word further across the canvas.
Kerning refers to the spacing between individual characters and is used to bring two characters closer or further apart. Depending on the type of font, kerning will be automatically applied to enhance the readability and/or to achieve a more visually pleasing result.