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Journey author Robert Davis is the owner and creative director of Atlanta agency, Davis Advertising, Inc.

 

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Journey from Concept to Creation

There is far more to the creative process than learning how to use software and configure hardware. This blog addresses them.

Typography (Part Three).

Only published comments... Mar 21 2008, 02:43 AM by Adman

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A long, long (really long) time ago I promised to offer some tips on typography. At long last, here they are. I hope they were worth the wait. My blog had to take the back seat for a few weeks...ok, months if you insist on counting the holidays. But never fear, I am still here...sort of like that nagging cough that you can't get rid of... But, deep down inside, I know you have missed me.

   So....here are some general tips for specifying type. They are in no particular order as none is necessarily more important than another. Remember that these are just basic guidelines...as you become more practiced as a designer, you can start to break some (but not all) of the rules.

  • *  Ideally, stick with the same type family for any given job. Get variety by changing the size and blackness -- and by using condensed and expanded versions and italics.
  • *  While it is permissible to mix a body face with a headline face, stay away from mixing two headline faces.
  • *  Constrain mixing to two faces -- three at the most.
  • *  Typestyles designed during the same time period do not necessarily go together… the character of the letters are a much better barometer to use when mixing types.
  • *  Old style Romans and Modern Romans do NOT go together and should never be combined.
  • *  Typestyles with different “x-heights” provide different degrees of weight when set as body copy. They can be used to help balance your layout...just as the "weight" of the letters.
  • *  Sans serif fonts can be used with almost any other typestyle. They are considered to be a neutral fonts.
  • *  Sans serifs should NOT be mixed with slab serif fonts.
  • *  Type mixing is mostly a matter of having good taste and artistic talent.
  • *  As a general rule, only mix types that are either very similar or very dissimilar. Others will appear to the reader as being convoluted – as if something is amiss.
  • *  When using colorful type, go a little larger and fatter than using black to compensate for the lack of darkness.
  • *  Never use small, weak serifs when reversing type or for use in Standard Denition video. Sans serif fonts are preferable in these applications.
  • *  Consider the use of ligatures, especially in headlines and logotypes. They can sometimes provide a more artistic or cleaner look. (Assuming the chosen font supports them, they can be found in the Character Map (Windows) or Key Caps (Apple) or by selecting “automatic ligature substitution” in your application.)
  • *  Explore the character map (Windows) or key caps (Mac) for special characters that aren’t available via the keyboard… learn the keyboard shortcuts for frequently used special characters.
  • *  Avoid script and cursive fonts that were designed to mimic handwriting. None of these fonts can adequately mimic handwriting and they only look phoney.
  • *  Generally, avoid using the Old English font. It is difficult to read and it tends to attracts attention to itself at the expense of the message.
  • *  For web design work, consider using Georgia (serif) and/or Verdana (sans serif). These FREE, high x-height fonts were designed to be legible on computer screens. They also work well with video monitors. For other suitable fonts, look for high x-heights, extended versions and “hinted” fonts. Bitstream, ITC and Monotype offer fonts with hinting.
  • *  Roman (serif) fonts are considered to be easier to read when used as body copy. The serifs form an “imaginary” line, helping to hold the eye on the line as it is read from left to right. Most magazines use Roman typefaces exclusively for body copy.
  • *  When working with type, “being different” is not a virtue. Through habit, readers are accustomed to seeing certain standards in typography. Change, in this case, can result in lower readership and/or legibility.
  • *  Break paragraphs into columns no more than 39 lower-case characters wide. The bigger the type, the wider the columns can be.
  • *  Drop caps can also be used to help draw the reader into your body copy, easing the reader from larger headlines to the body copy. But, the drop cap must be unied with the copy in terms of tone and mood. (Some designers consider drop caps as being dated.)
  • *  Take “quality time” to manually kern your headlines. Kern them so that they are optically balanced. Properly "kerned" headlines are the mark of a true professional.
  • *  As a "rule of thumb" – leading should be 120% of the point size.
  • *  Use “hinted” fonts when possible.
  • *  In the early stage of type specification, frst think in terms of classifications or categories of type, (Gothic vs. Roman. Old-style Roman vs Transitional Roman)… then narrow it down to a specific typestyle.
  • *  In addition, I suggest that you get into the habit of looking at the work that is out there… and consider the type choices that were used… and why.
  • *  If you cannot fnd a specific type name, it may be listed under a different name as different vendors often have equivalent fonts under different names. Apparently, it is easier to copyright typestyle names than the actual designs themselves.
  • *  User proper typesetting conventions – real typographic “curly” quotation marks, real EN dashes (hyphens separating numbers, etc.) and REAL EM dashes (longer marks separating thoughts – most page layout programs will convert these automatically when you type two subsequent hypens (which is proper when using a standard typewriter).
  • *  When doing layouts, it is a good idea to look at pages “in context.” For example, if you are doing a DVD cover, do each panel independently as it will be viewed by the purchaser of the DVD. If a magazine ad, you may want to position it in an actual magazine to see how it will look in-context as well. This may affect your choice of fonts and/or the relative point sizes, etc., of the work.

 

   Alright... that ends the series on Typography. I'll let you ponder the subject of my next blog...but I'll try not to wait too long this time. I can only use the "holidays" excuse once a year.

 

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Journey from Concept to Creation said:

<< Previous | Next >> The reason for proper type specication is simple -- select the typestyle

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About Adman

After developing his artistic abilities from an early age, Robert Davis (Adman) started his advertising career as a graphic artist for a commercial printing company while in 10th grade. He later acquired degrees in Commercial Art and (later) Business Administration (Marketing with focus on computer science) while working in various advertising agency capacities. Robert started his own agency in 1989. He added an in-house Pro Tools® recording studio in 1999 and an Avid Xpress® DV video editing suite in 2002. He now also has two Avid Media Composer suites and an Xpress Studio HD suite in a fully equipped studio which also features SoftImage|XSI and Pro Tools. He believes that his company, Davis Advertising, Inc., represents a new model for the 21st century advertising agency…”a small, agile and responsive agency wit1h comprehensive, in-house capabilities.” He says, “Avid® software provides the creative freedom and flexibility I covet.” His focus is on developing effective creative ideas via his own strategic planning process. He loves being surrounded by cameras, lights, props and other creative professionals who share his vision. He also, of course, loves working with Avid® software to bring his ideas to life. Currently residing in metro-Atlanta, Robert is an accomplished writer, producer and creative director. His advertising agency has served Fortune 500 accounts and has received several international awards. His work has been exhibited at the prestigious Cannes Lions Advertising Festival. When not riding his vintage Italian racing bike, or working out with free weights, Robert can often be found in the late evening singing or playing drums, guitars and keyboards in the studio.

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