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Typography is the science of using letter forms for communication. We use letter forms extensively in our daily life, in various media like newspapers, signages, application forms, letters, notebooks, textbooks, currency notes, posters, tickets, SMS, email etc.
A very large number of digital fonts are available for a graphic designer to use in design projects. A designer carefully chooses fonts after understanding the design problem, the medium, target audience, production aspects and the context. Fonts have unique characteristics and need to be carefully chosen and used to achieve good results in communication. For example, newspaper designers spend a considerable time in experimenting with different fonts in different sizes to create a final design which helps a reader to go through several pages of a newspaper with ease and understand the text comfortably.
In English, fonts are classified into several groups.
There are three main groups.
Serif: A serif is the pointed ending of a stroke as in “I” or “T”. This is inspired by the letters carved on stone, using chisels. Thickness of the strokes also changes in these letter forms, like those drawn by flat brushes. Serif fonts are known for their readability and is widely used in text composition for books, newspapers, magazines etc, where a large amount of text is to be composed in small point sizes. Sans Serif: Sans means without. Sans serif means without Serif. Sans serif fonts have blunt endings to the strokes.
Almost all the strokes look like equal thickness, as if drawn by a marker pen. Sans serif fonts give a modern look and is widely used in logos and symbols, packaging, signages, websites, mobile phone interfaces, gaming consoles etc. Script: Script fonts recreate the visual styling of calligraphy. The letters imitate the feeling of calligraphic nibs, with a slant to the right and changing thickness of strokes. These fonts give a festive and personal look to the reader and are very commonly used in wedding invitations.
Anatomy of a Font
As human body has many parts for identification like head, neck, shoulder, arms, tail, foot etc., Type Forms or Font face are also divided into parts, which we study under ‘anatomy of fonts’. Some examples you will see below:
• Shirorekha connotes headline
• Skandharekha, is equivalent to shoulderline
• Padarekha means baseline
Uppercase and Lowercase
Capital letters are called “Uppercase” letters in typographical terminology. During handcomposing, metal type of all capital letters were stored in the upper section of wooden boxes, kept in front of the person composing the text. Similarly, all small letters are called “Lowercase” letters, which were stored in the lower part of the composing box.
Ascender is the portion of the alphabet that ‘ascends’ or exceeds above the ‘x’ height of an alphabet as in b, d, t, l.
Descender is that portion of an alphabet that goes below or extends downwards from the ‘x’ height of an alphabet as in g, j, q, p.
1. How can the appropriate use of fonts enhance the design?
2. Write the difference between Serif and San Serif fonts with the help of an example.
3. What do you understand by expressive typography? Explain with examples prepared by you.
4. While designing an advertisement for kid’s apparel brand, what kind of fonts will you choose and why?
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