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Article :: 3,096: A Type Story

I’m a self-proclaimed Fontaholic. You won’t find this word in any commercial dictionary but, in the vernacular of many Graphic Designers, Fontaholic is an adjective that means “of, relating to, or of the nature of fonts. Can’t get enough fonts. Live for fonts. Need more fonts.” That’s me. In fact, I literally created the t-shirt.

3,096 is the number of fonts I have currently installed on my computer. That’s not including access to the nearly 3,000 TYPESTYLES in the Adobe Type Library. That brings up an interesting point. When we discuss fonts, we generally mean typestyles. Fonts are the specific while typestyles are the general. Using the familiar Arial TYPESTYLE, the FONTS within that typestyle are Regular, Bold, Light, Condensed, etc.

Typestyles and fonts are very important to design; in fact, the selection of type can make or break a design. Sloppy or inconsistent type choices can make an otherwise wonderful design fall flat and using too many fonts in a design can make your business look unprofessional.

Generally speaking, great design can be constructed using several fonts within only one typestyle. Adding a second, complimentary typestyle can work as well but there are clear cut design rules to follow when it comes to type selections within classifications. A font or typestyle classification is the group it belongs to like Serif, Sans Serif, Script, Decorative or Handwriting. A Serif font refers to a typestyle like Times New Roman with small lines or strokes at the ends of letters. An example of a Sans Serif font is Helvetica where there is an absence of those strokes.

It is never a good idea to mix two serif typestyles or two sans serif typestyles; however, carefully choosing one from each category could compliment rather than clash. Selective font choice set the tone of the design. Certain fonts create a more casual image while others are more conservative. Fonts create emotion, whimsy or elegance so choosing the right font is incredibly important.

Some other considerations regarding font choice are size and color which can affect readability. Utilizing fonts at a tiny size or in a light color will make your marketing material difficult to read. Certain typestyles are geared for long blocks of text while others are more suited for headlines. Knowing how to choose and marry typestyles and understanding how to use them properly is necessary for presenting your business professionally.

Wikipedia says that Typography is “the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable and appealing when displayed.” It’s tempting to make fonts an afterthought when, in actuality, they provide the foundation that sets the tone for the image your business projects to clients and prospects.

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