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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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              Published on September 20, 2018

              11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

              11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

              In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

              Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

              In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

              Minimizing Tabs

              Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

              Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

              Incognito Mode

              Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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              1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
              2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
              3. Download extension New Incognito Window

              This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

              Save Webpages as PDF Files

              Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

              Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

              Open Recently-closed Tabs

              Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

              One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

              The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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              Solve Mathematical Problems

              Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

              For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

              Play Media Files

              Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

              In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

              Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

              With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

              Stay Focus(e)d

              Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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              Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

              With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

              This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

              Grammarly for Editing

              Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

              You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

              Loom

              There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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              There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

              With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

              Chrome Calendar Extension

              No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

              Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

              Final Thoughts

              Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

              Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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