What Does Typography Mean?

When working or studying to be a graphic designer, you will definitely come across the term typography at some point. 

What Does Typography Mean?

Typography is actually a huge important part of graphic design but surprisingly, not a lot of people actually understand what it means.

If you are one of those people, then don’t worry – we are going to be diving into typography, what it is and why it’s so important to understand. 

By the end of this article, you will completely understand what typography is and be able to talk about it confidently with others. 

So, let’s take a closer look at typography and what it is! 

What Is Typography?

Typography is basically the art of arranging letters, words and text in such a way that it can convey information effectively. It is all around us and we consume typography every single day.

It’s the words we read on our phone, the headlines we see in posters, the writing on signs, inside books, even the list of ingredients on the back of a bottle of shampoo. 

All of these examples count as typography – but it’s not as simple as just plain writing.

There are actually seven different main elements to typography that influence the purpose and attractiveness of your text. 

Typography is not only about making information easy to convey, but also makes it attractive so you actually want to read the text.

So, typography is not just about what words you use and in what order. It also includes the style it is written in, the fonts you use, the size of the text, the color of the text.

Everything and anything that involves text is typography. 

This is clearly reflected in the etymology of the word. The word ‘typography’ has Greek roots that combine the words typos (which means impression) and graphia (which means writing).

So, typography is more than just typing black writing onto a white background. 

It’s all about making an impression with your audience to get them to remember the product you are trying to sell and make them want to learn more about it. 

Why You Need To Be Concerned About Typography

When it comes to graphic design, typography is just as important as the images and color palettes you use.

It’s an important component in User Interface (UI) design that helps your audience not only understand your product but interact and feel visually compelled by it.

Typography can also be used to help build up brand recognition.

Certain brands use their own special font for all of their text, which makes it easy for audiences and customers to recognize their brand even if the logo is not visible.

Huge companies will even trademark the fonts they use so other companies cannot use them. This is because audiences associate a type of font with a certain compan.

And other companies can exploit that recognition to trick potential customers into associating their product with their competitor’s. 

And it’s not just the font. Companies will use fonts in a certain structure, size and color. 

Eye-catching text used in the headlines of posters, advertisements and cover images are also important for drawing in potential customers.

This means that good, well done typography could mean the difference between someone engaging with your product for longer periods of time and even remembering your product long after it is out of sight. 

This is why typography is so important. Not only is it an iconic part of your branding, but it is part of what stimulates your audience and makes it memorable in their mind. 

Overall, typography can be the difference between a successful product or an unsuccessful one. 

The Seven Elements Of Typography

The Seven Elements Of Typography

There are seven main elements of typography that you should be concerned about when working as a graphic designer.

Every time you want to include text somewhere – whether it’s on a product or a website – you need to go through each of these eight categories and think of how it applies to the text you want to add. 

Fonts

This is the most basic and easiest element to understand: fonts. Fonts refers to the design style that the text will take.

There are lots of different types of fonts including block fonts, cursive, fun unique designs – you really are spoiled for choice.

So, before you start typing out your text, choose wisely which font you are going to use. 

Consistency 

Choosing fonts that all have something in common is a great way to keep things professional and consistent for your audiences when it comes to typography. 

So, you may want to choose all of your fonts from the same typeface. Typefaces are like ‘families’ of fonts that use the same style and design but vary it up with each different individual font.

For example, one font will be bolder than the original but both use the same style of lettering.

So, if you want all of your texts to be varied but have a consistent theme, you can choose a typeface and then use all the fonts included in that typeface. 

Contrast

Using different fonts from the same typeface is a great way to provide contrast between your blocks of texts and their headings. 

Headings should be bold and large with perhaps subheadings in a smaller yet still bold front underneath, and then a smaller font again that is not as bold.

These contrasts make it easier for your audience to read blocks of texts and navigate through your product. 

This way, they will be able to find the content they want to read and also have their eye caught by attractive headings. 

White Space

White space, or negative space, is an often overlooked element when it comes to typography. It refers to the ‘white’ space between your letters and words. 

It’s important to find a good balance because too much or not enough white space can seriously impact how easy your text is to read.

Blocks of texts with not enough white space are crunched up together and it can be difficult to decipher one letter from the next.

Alternatively, letters that are spaces too far apart are easy to lose track of and lose their meaning. 

So, think about the amount of white space between each letter and symbol of your text.

Color

Another easy element that a lot of people think about when adding text and typography is color.

It’s important to use good contrasting colors between your text and the background so it’s easy for your audience to read. 

Using a white font on a white background will just make it invisible. Using black writing against a white background is a good contrast and makes it easy to read.

This may seem like a very basic thing but it’s surprising how many graphic designers use a very light color for text against an already light background, making it difficult for audiences to read. 

If your text is not easy to read, then the likelihood of your audience sticking around to try and decipher it goes down and you end up losing business. 

Alignment 

Alignment refers to how your text is spaced all together. 

For example, is it all aligned to one side of your page, or is it centered? Are headings and main bodies aligned together or are they separate to provide more contrast. 

You should play around with the alignment of your typography to see which one is easier to read and more attractive to your audience.

You should also be aware of any industry standards that require you to align certain bodies of text in a specific way. 

Hierarchy 

And finally, we have a hierarchy. 

This element works closely with contrast and alignment as it is concerned about where you place each block of text. 

For example, a newspaper may put a main heading at the top of the page with a sub heading underneath, and then the body of text placed into long columns.

Imagine if the hierarchy was inverted and the heading was at the bottom of the page – wouldn’t you be confused where to read next?

Perhaps you would not have even read that far. You would have first been greeted by a huge body of text that you knew nothing about. 

This is why hierarchy is so important. Consider what pieces of text you are going to put where and create a hierarchy for all of your typography.

Keep that hierarchy consistent from page to page so your audience can follow along with ease. 

Conclusion

We hope this has helped you understand some basics behind typography. It is such an important part of graphic design and UI design so you should never underestimate it.

Before you start adding any kind of text to your product, always consider these seven elements to make sure you have the optimum typography.

That will draw in the largest audience and generate the highest amount of business possible for you. 

Katie Nash