Saturday, March 21, 2009

Understanding Typefaces

With computers and desktop publishing, non-designers have access to powerful type design tools and detailed terminology previously only availabe to professional designers. Just about everyone knows the names of a few different fonts (Times New Roman, Verdana, Helvetica, etc.) and know the effects of actions such as alignment, justification, leading and kerning.

Students can quickly learn to be perceptive about the use of type in print, on screens, and in the environment. They can understand the role of serif and sans-serif, italic, boldface, kerning, ligatures, etc. Students coming from a fine art background have to learn to discipline themselves to use guidelines rather than attempting to free-hand all their letters and to warm up to the beauty of well-crafted letter styles rather than always reverting to 1970's style curvilinear hand-lettering. These are usually only appropriate now for an old-fashioned or nostalgic look.

See how many of your students know common type terms such as:
x-height, serif, ascender, descender, counter, ligature, kerning, italic, slab serif, etc.

Click on the images above to see them in larger version.

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