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How to Get Really Good at Typography in One Month

How to Get Really Good at Typography in One Month

Typography is the visual representation of the written word; though if it’s used effectively, it can also add meaning to what is being communicated. Good typography is more than just choosing a favorite font. It’s setting and arranging type in a way that is legible and pleasing for viewers.

With web and mobile being the dynamic force that it is today, there’s a great opportunity to explore more brand-forwarding typography. A company’s website is commonly the consumer’s place of interaction with the brand, so being able to have type function in multiple platforms is becoming increasingly important.

– Cristin Burton, Graphic Designer for Bigstock

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    If you want to efficiently make typography one of your skills, without having to become an expert web designer, there are plenty of resources to help you master the art. Follow this guide that takes you through a weekly process of becoming a great typographer in one month.

    Week 1: Learning the Basics

    To use type effectively, you need to gain a firm understanding of the anatomy of letters and the way they interact with each other. This includes knowing the different parts of a letter and the way fonts are classified.

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    Typefaces and Fonts
    First, you should understand what differentiates these two terms. A typeface is a set of distinct characters with varying weights, which ultimately make up a font family. A font is one set of character styles within the typeface. Basically, a font is a particular size, weight, and style of a typeface, while a typeface is a range of fonts that share an overarching design.

    Typeface Styles
    Typefaces are classified into different style categories to help define what they’re best used for. The most common and basic classification is serif and sans serif. A serif is the small stroke that stems off of the ends of letters, and a sans serif font does not have these strokes. Sans serif fonts are usually easiest for web reading, and serifs are great for titles or making bold statements.

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      Structure of a Letter
      The variations in the parts of letters are what make up different styles of fonts. Each font has its own set of unique shapes and sizes of parts. Some of the main pieces you should know are:

      • X-height: The height of a lowercase x, or the height of any lowercase letter excluding the ascender and descender.
      • Baseline: The imaginary line that a set of characters sit on to help create uniformity and legibility.
      • Ascender: The part of a letter that extends above the x-height.
      • Descender: The part of a letter that descends below the baseline.
      • Counter: The enclosed spaces within letters.

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        Resources
        These lessons and tutorials will help you gain a deeper understanding of the basics of type.

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        Week 2: Combining and Modifying Typefaces

        Anyone can simply choose a font that seems to suit a particular project. But if you want to really add meaning to your project and customize a font style to optimize its effectiveness, you need to learn techniques for combining and manually adjusting different styles.

        Combining Typefaces
        Combining typefaces can add depth and interest to your project that keeps your viewer’s attention and keeps the eye moving. There are certain principles that need to be considered when putting these combinations together to ensure a unified and complementary style.

        Contrast: Your chosen typefaces need to be unique enough to be recognizably different, yet not so different that their styles clash. You can find this balance by making variations to weight, size, structure and color.

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          Hierarchy: Besides the actual style of your typefaces, you can create contrast by establishing a visual hierarchy that helps guide the viewer’s eye.

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            Modifying Typefaces
            Each font has a built-in space setting to establish its structure. However, sometimes the spacing isn’t right for a certain layout. You can fix this by adjusting these spaces, known as leading, kerning and tracking. Leading refers to the distance between baselines in a block of copy, kerning is the space between two specific letters and tracking is the uniform spacing between all letters in a text. By slightly changing these settings, you can make your layout more legible, aesthetically pleasing and meaningful.

            Resources

            Week 3: Layout

            Even if you’re putting together a simple, text-based document, intentional layout can mean the difference between readers digesting the entire content, and moving on to something more interesting. Variations in fonts and font styles, white space and proper leading, kerning and tracking all contribute to an aesthetically pleasing project.

            Grids: A helpful way to develop a solid layout is to use a grid system, which enables you to find consistency in spacing and alignment. InDesign has a great grid feature that is easy to use and prime for laying out and customizing type.

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              Resources

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              Week 4: Getting Creative and Using Visual Hierarchy

              As you advance in your typography skills, you can begin to experiment with more unique and creative layouts, and even customize your own lettering. Once you’ve gotten a grasp on how to create a solid layout, you can begin to experiment with different ways to make a visual hierarchy that keeps readers’ interest.

              Hierarchy: Keep your target audience in mind when testing different layouts and typefaces, and consider whether your solution meets their needs and expectations. For example, it might not be most effective to use a highly decorative font for a project that is meant to portray a trustworthy and professional brand. Use what you’ve learned about combining typefaces to create different hierarchies.

              Lettering: If you’re especially ambitious in your journey to become good at typography, consider trying your hand at lettering. This is “the art of drawing letters,” though it can also all be done on the computer (usually in Adobe Illustrator).

              Resources

              You’re Ready!

              Now that you have your typography lessons planned out, you’re ready to get started! By the end of the month, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert typographer, making all of your projects easier and more effective in communicating to audiences.

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              Last Updated on February 15, 2019

              7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

              7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

              Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

              Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

              Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

              So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

              Joe’s Goals

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                Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

                Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

                Daytum

                  Daytum

                  is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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                  Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

                  Excel or Numbers

                    If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

                    What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

                    Evernote

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                      I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                      Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                      Access or Bento

                        If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                        Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                        You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                        Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                        All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                        Conclusion

                        I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                        What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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