What is typography, and what is typeface? What do these terms, and how can you choose between them?
What Is Typography?
Typography is the art of arranging letters to create a visual composition that conveys meaning. It’s about creating an overall look for your document or website.
This includes things like font size, line length, leading, kerning, tracking, etc.
Typography is often used synonymously with “font selection,” but this is not always true.
There are many different types of fonts available, such as serif, sans-serif, script, condensed, decorative, etc., each of which has its own unique characteristics.
There are also many different ways in which we use typography: headlines, body copy, subheadings, captions, pull quotes, etc.
Each of these uses requires a different approach to selecting the right font.
What Is Typeface?
Typeface is the name given to a specific design of lettering. A typeface consists of all the characters (letters) in one font family.
The term ‘typeface’ was originally coined by the French printer Aldus Manutius who created the first modern typefaces in 15th century Venice.
In the digital age, there are thousands of typefaces available on the web, including free ones from Google Fonts. These include Open Sans, Roboto Slab, and Georgia.
The most common typefaces are serif, sans-Serif, cursive, and monospace. Serif means it has little lines at the end of each character. Cursive refers to handwriting.
Monospaced means the same width across every character.
A good way to think about typefaces is to imagine they’re the building blocks of text.
You could build a house out of Legos using only Legos, but if you wanted to make something more sophisticated, you might need to add other pieces like bricks, windows, doors, roof tiles, etc.
Similarly, when choosing a typeface, you have to consider the purpose of the piece of text.
If you want to convey information quickly, you may opt for a simple, legible font like Helvetica Neue.
On the other hand, if you want to emphasize a particular word or phrase, you may choose a bolder, larger font like Gotham.
Font Vs Typeface
Font and typeface are often confused. This is because, in a very, very general way, they both refer to the same thing — the design of a single letter in a typeface.
However, the difference between a font and a typeface is important because they serve very different purposes.
When you select a font, you’re deciding which style of lettering will be used throughout your project.
For example, you would never use a sans-serif font for a headline, whereas you might use a serif font for a paragraph or subtitle.
When you select a typeface, you’re choosing the entire family of fonts that share the same design.
So, even though you chose a serif font for your headline, you could still use any of the other fonts in the same family.
You should understand how each of these terms relate to one another before you can decide which one you need for your project.
How Can I Choose Between Typography And Typeface?
When deciding between typography and typeface, it helps to understand their differences.
When looking at a word processor, you will see both options under the heading “Fonts & Styles.”
In Microsoft Word, you can select from a list of preinstalled fonts, or you can download new fonts from the web.
If you’re designing a website, you should be able to find some basic fonts online. For example, you can search Google Fonts for free fonts.
You can also use Adobe Typekit to access over 100,000 premium fonts.
If you’re working with print media, then you’ll usually have much less choice than you would online. However, you can still get creative with your typography choices.
Some great examples of this are found in books like Designing With Type by Bruce Mau and How To Make Books by Michael Bierut.
How To Use Typography Effectively
Once you know what you’re doing, you can start thinking about how to apply typography effectively.
Here are three tips that will help you achieve maximum impact with your typography:
1. Keep It Simple
Keep things simple. Don’t go overboard with fancy features. Just stick to the basics. This includes keeping the number of letters per line below 12.
2. Be Consistent
Stick to a single style throughout your project. You don’t want to confuse readers by having two styles of type in one document.
3. Create Contrast
You can create contrast through size, weight, color, and placement. Try not to repeat these elements too often.
4. Think About Your Audience
What kind of audience do you expect to read your content? Will they be young or old? Male or female? Will they be reading on a phone or tablet?
All of these factors affect the type of design you choose.
5. Consider The Purpose Of Your Content
What is the message you’re trying to get across? Is it an article, a blog post, a brochure, a flyer, or a poster? Each of these requires different types of typography.
How To Use Typeface Effectively
The same principles apply here as well. Start with a few core fonts and experiment until you find the right combination.
Once you decide which fonts work best together, try to keep them consistent throughout your entire project.
1. Be Creative
Use your imagination! There are so many possibilities for combining typefaces. You can even combine multiple typefaces within a single paragraph.
Try different combinations. Play around with different weights, sizes, colors, and layouts. See what works best and why.
3. Find Balance
Balance means finding a happy medium. Too little type can leave your reader feeling overwhelmed, while too much can feel boring.
4. Choose Appropriate Media
Don’t forget that you’re using type for a reason. What kind of media does it fit best with? Do you need to use large text for a poster, or small text for a brochure?
The Bottom Line
Using typography correctly takes time and practice.
But once you master the basics, you can really make something special out of your designs, and understanding how to differentiate it from typeface is a great place to start.
We hope we’ve helped you understand some of the key differences between the two!