Monday, 8 August 2011

Project Choosing type

Assignments two and three requires you to use type tools and make informed choices with regards to font. Whilst the taking of photographs remains the core of these assignments it is important to know enough about fonts without too much research and a crash course into typology.

Some general principles are:
  • Choose fonts which are easy to read except in special circumstances.
  • Special circumstances include book titles for which a display font is appropriate.  Display Font means large.
  • Serif typefaces are generally considered as easier to read for large amounts of text as opposed to sans-serif. 
  • Use of contrasting fonts for different kinds of text.
  • If in doubt stick to familiar fonts such as Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, Georgia. 
  • Use no more than two or three fonts in a single layout
Serifs are semi-structural details on the ends of some of the strokes that make up letters and symbols. A typeface without these details is called sans serif.  Sometimes sans-serif typefaces are called "Grotesque" whilst serif typefaces are referred to as "roman".

In general serif fonts are used in traditional printed material for example books and newspapers while some magazines employ sans serif typefaces; editors believe that they are "cleaner", regardless of any impact on readability.

For more on typefaces:

fonts, typefaces and all things typographical — I love Typography (ILT)

There is so much on this site to comment on but I loved this video which isn't really anything to do with choosing a font but has a lot to do with inspirations, working through ideas and being creative. Andrew Byrom speaks about spotting ideas in the everyday and how they can evolve into something you didn't anticipate in the first place.

He talks about working within certain constraints and how to adapt to those constraints, trying different approaches, don't stop working on and changing your ideas if they don't first work, persistence being important. Byrom realises that his products will be used by many others for different purposes, all in all echos of photography really

Web-Safe Fonts for Your Site

The second of the links gives the following information of most common fonts:

  • Availability: Thoroughly available. It is probably the most common sans serif font. It is the default font for Windows, and it first shipped as a standard font with Windows 3.1.
  • Readability On Screen: Not the worse but definitely not the best, especially at small sizes, when it becomes too narrow and the spacing between characters too small.
  • Character: Has a streamlined, modern look but is also plain and boring.
*For Mac users, the equivalent of Arial is Helvetica.

Times New Roman:  :
  • Availability: Thoroughly available. It is probably the most common serif font. It is the default font for web browsers. It was first shipped as a standard font with Windows 3.1
  • Readability On Screen: Acceptable for font sizes of 12pt. and up, but terrible for smaller sizes.
  • Character: Serious, formal and old fashioned.
* For Mac users, the equivalent of Times New Roman is Times.

  • Availability: A widely available sans serif font, Verdana was first shipped with Internet Explorer version 3, when the exponential growth of the Internet demanded a new font that was easy to read on the screen.
  • Readability On Screen: Exceptional. It's wide body makes it the clearest font for on-screen reading, even at small sizes.
  • Character: Modern, friendly and professional.
  • Availability: Good. It is a serif font introduced by Microsoft with Internet Explorer version 4, when the need for a serif font which much better readability than Times New Roman became evident.
  • Readability On Screen: Very good. It is the best serif font for on-line reading, since it was specifically designed for that purpose.
  • Character: Modern, friendly and professional.
Microsoft has also popularized two more fonts: Comic Sans Serif and Trebuchet.

Comic Sans Serif was launched with Internet Explorer verion 3 and mimics the hand writing used in comics. It is easy to read and is informal and friendly, but it is not considered appropriate for more serious, professional sites.

Trebuchet is another sans serif font, similar to Arial but with more character, although it can be difficult to read in small sizes.

Finally, we can mention Courier New, a serif font that was widely popular with old, mechanical typewriters, and that is now used only to present simulated computer code (if you need to present snippets of sample HTML code in your web pages, this is the font to use.

Therefore, from a usability perspective, the clear winner is Verdana. If you are inclined to use a serif font, Georgia is the best option. Arial remains a good option for specific parts of text, like headlines and titles, where a different font must be used and you can use larger sizes.

Mario Sanchez publishes The Internet Digest (   ), an internet marketing content site packed with useful articles and resources, and Shoestring Branding ( ) where you can learn the basics of search engine optimization in four easy steps.

Exercise: Experiment with layouts

Take a simple layout comprising a picture (represented by a grey box) heading, body text and caption. Taking into consideration everything I have just read, experiment with different typefaces, the use of italics and bold, produce three different versions of this layout.

Which is the most satisfactory and why?

The basic layout was created with the assistance of layers, gridlines and the ruler tool. Having researched type tools, paragraphs text was used to postion the text in columns. I also discovered that by holding down the alt key and clicking on the open document you can stipulate the size of the column you require.

Setting paragraph text size

Creating basic layout

Original basic layout

As per the guidelines and earlier exercise Verdana was used for the heading and Georgia for the main body of text. The written passage text is known as Lorem Ipsum. This is a dummy text used by the print and typesetting industry so the readability text does not distract the viewer from the design layout yet mimics normal letter distribution.

Using and repeating ordinary text does not always create a proper flow of text, it is readable and can distract, also cause vertical or diagonal patterns in the text.

normal text as filler can cause problems

For more on Lorem Ipsum read here

Before jumping straight in I thought I'd do a little rummaging about and came across this site which gave some handy tips, repeated some of the information given in the module and had some example layouts to compare...

in particular I noted the following, copied from the site

In order for your page layout to be visually appealing and to keep the readers interest, you should have contrast on your pages.  Use a contrasting type for headings, keep the headings very different from the body type. Don't go overboard, use one type for the body copy and a different one for the headings.  Consider a newspaper and how the headings are larger and bolder.

Choose one justification and stick to it.  As a rule, center justification will give the page layout a formal look.  It is commonly used for wedding invitations, formal announcements, etc. Left justification will give your book a more conservative professional look.  Full justification within the layout will give your book a clean orderly look.  With full justification, your headings could be either left, right, or centered on the page.

Choosing font styles for your book is very important for both the appearance and for transferring files for printing. The most common fonts used for books are the Oldstyle fonts, as they are easily readable for large body copy.  Among the most common are Times Roman, Goudy, Garamond, and Baskerville. Remember to choose a contrasting  font for your headings. A sans serif font such as Arial is a common choice. A sans serif font is one without the "hooks" at the ends of each letter. These "hooks" help to guide the eye from one letter to another making the text easily readable. This is why sans serif fonts such as Arial should never be used for the main body of the text. Children's books are commonly set in a slab serif font, because of their clean straight lines.  Some common Slab serif fonts are New Century Schoolbook, Classic SSK, and Clarendon.  

In regard to printing, it is important to ensure that all fonts being used are resident in your Windows font folder. This includes both bold and italicized versions of each font. Simply using the bold or italicize commands on the toolbar may not necessarily ensure the font is available. For example, Microsoft Word will manufacture its own version of a font if it is not already installed on your computer. If this is done, the bold font will appear to be two images side by side when printed on a high quality digital press. The italicized versions may not print at all. The simple solution to font problems is to avoid unusual fonts such as Wing Dings and Symbol, and stay with more common book fonts such as Garamond and Times New Roman. Fonts are also selected to add or reduce the number of pages in a book. For example, Garamond is a wide font which should be used to bulk up the book with more pages. Changing the font from Times New Roman to Garamond could increase the page count an average of 20 - 30%

* An important consideration is to do test prints, what may look good on screen does not always translate well into print.

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