Posts Tagged type
As you may have heard, it was announced today that Steve Jobs passed away. He truly was a great creative man who had a knack for being able to tell what people wanted before they wanted it. If only some of us magicians could master that!
Of course he’s responsible for more than a few things, like creating computers and hand-held devices that are as beautiful as they are easy to use, or changing the way people buy and consume media.
I’d like to direct your attention to an article, One thing we owe to Steve Jobs, published on CNN, that credits Jobs for the fact that you have the choice of a multitude of fonts on your computer. It’s a very interesting story and offers a small look into Jobs’ life you may not have known existed.
For a little more inspiration, here is A Collection of 60 Inspirational Steve Jobs Quotes About Life, Design and Apple.
Mr. Jobs, thank you for being a great example of creative thinking, leadership and good old hard work. Take a load off, sir…you deserve it.
My wife rolls her eyes at me every time I point out a font, saying “There’s Neutra” or “Man, I love Rockwell.” Then I give her a hard time whenever she critiques stitching in some embroidery or the quality of a costume. (She’s a seamstress.) Being a designer, I notice the use of many fonts out in the real world, mostly ones that I’ve used before or use on a regular basis. That being said there are a number of fonts that make designers cringe when they see them used.
Here are a few of the usual suspects.
Comic Sans: This font and Papyrus (below) I would say are tied for first place on this list. Comic Sans I’ve seen most with people trying to “spritz up” Word documents, reports and PowerPoint presentations. It would seem that this font feels most at home in Microsoft desktop publishing programs. People like it because it looks different and has a hand-drawn feel to it but really it was only intended to be used for text in cartoons or, ehem, comics. It’s not suited for business use. Check out Ban Comic Sans.
Papyrus: This font’s largest fault is that it is grossly overused. Sure it has a unique exotic look to it, but you see it in more places than the invisible deck! Plus there’s the added benefit of the horrible kerning between uppercase and lowercase letters built right in! Really, you don’t even have to do anything! By the way, according to Wikipedia, even the font’s creator agrees the font has become overused.
Well, there you have it. What fonts do you love or love to hate? Let’s hear it in the comments!
What can I do to improve how my type looks? I’m glad you asked. Here are five tips you can use that will instantly make your type look better.
Kerning is the space between letters. When your kerning is all helter skelter, things just look “off” and you might not be able to put your finger on the issue right away. It brings an unnecessary tension to what you’re designing. In most design programs you can adjust the kerning between letters. Below is an example of good vs. bad kerning. In the top example, I went a little out of my way to create bad kerning for example’s sake. As you can see there are letters that are too close together as well as too far apart confusing the eye and the mind. The bottom shows how nice the text looks with proper kerning. It is easier to read and understand.
Beware of two round letters next to each other such as “bo,” “oc” or “oo.” Two round letters will optically look like they’re further apart when they’re really not. You might kern them closer together a little to offset that. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. Just don’t beat it to death.
Tip: If you’re using the Adobe Creative Suite, try selecting all your text using the “Optical Kerning” setting. You’ll find this is a quick and easy way to make your kerning look sharp.
2. Use fonts within the same typeface
If you want a nice unified look within your design, you should try sticking with one typeface and using the different font variations within the typeface. For example, the typeface would be Gotham and you would use the different font variations of bold, light, italic or otherwise. You might try using the standard weight font for all your normal copy and a bold or heavy weight for headers. You could use an italic or oblique font for emphasis or quotes. Here’s an example:
3. Use a contrasting typeface
Building off the last tip, something else you might try is to use a contrasting typeface. When using different typefaces together it’s a good rule of thumb to use no more than two together. Also, make sure you don’t use two that look similar to each other. People might think it is a mistake. You’re going for contrast here, so make it look different. Since above I used Gotham, a sans serif typeface, I’ll pick something that has serifs. I’ll use Minion Pro for the subhead to contrast the Gotham main copy.
4. Use a contrasting size
Using contrasting sizes in your designs in general can help to add visual interest. Try using that principle in your type. To really go all out, try doubling the size from the main copy.
5. Add some color
Finally, this may not come as a surprise, but hey! Add some color into the mix. See my last post about Kuler to help you out.
What have you done to try and make your type stand out? Let’s hear it in the comments!