Graphic and web designers are always throwing around typography terms that might confuse the general public. Anyone outside the world of design and type might even consider the terms s foreign language. Also, there are several typography terms that are misunderstood or confused, even by amateur designers.
Put simply, typography refers to the appearance of text. It is an umbrella term for describing the font and the characters’ weight, height, orientation, color, and size.
Now you know what typography means, let’s move on to clearing some of the confusion by clearly outlining the commonly misunderstood terms.
Typeface and font
Most people interchangeably use these terms, but they don’t mean the same. A lot of times, people are referring to typeface, but they are saying fonts. If you make the same mistake, you need to stop right now.
A typeface is the design or style of a set of characters like Bodoni, Helvetica, or Times Roman. The method or technology used to reproduce these typefaces is called font.
Today, digital fonts are created using font production tools. Therefore these fonts are called software. Before digital technology came into being, font referred to the film into which the typeface was imprinted. Moreover, each point size of any given typeface is considered a different font.
Readability and legibility
Readability and legibility mean the ease of reading, but the terms aren’t synonymous. Readability is the typeface arrangement, and legibility is the typeface design.
The characteristics of the typeface design determine its legibility, and it includes the width, character shapes, x-height, the size of the counters, stroke contrast, and weight. These contribute toward helping designers distinguish one letter from the other.
On the other hand, readability refers to how the type is arranged or set. The factors impacting readability are line spacing, font size, word spacing, letter spacing, alignment, and line length.
Glyph and character
Glyphs refer to the character’s specific design, shape, or representation. On the other hand, a character refers to the symbol representing a letter.
Characters can be represented by several glyphs that are set in varied typefaces. Besides, one character can be represented with more than one glyph. If you are a Mac user and need to find any glyph, you can consider installing the Glyphfinder. You will instantly have access to over 34,000 characters. You can consider downloading Holdkey if you are a Windows user.
The classifications of typography
You can choose from thousands of font types when it comes to typography classifications. It is essential to know the typical characteristics to convey your requirements to the design team. The standard typography classifications are mentioned below.
- Serif typefaces are quite common, and they have embellishments. These embellishments project from the end of each stroke of the characters.
- Script fonts and typefaces resemble hand lettering styles, and they range from elegant calligraphy to casual cursive.
- Sans serif typefaces are without embellishments.
- Decorative typefaces are intended for display, and they are also called display typefaces. They have an unrestrained and unconventional appearance. They are typically used in headers.
Few more typography terms that you ought to know if you want to step into the world of design or need to discuss with your team of designers regarding an upcoming project. Knowing these terms will aid you in explaining your design visions to your team.
- Kerning: The spacing between two characters is known as kerning. The characters might be punctuation, numbers, or letters. In graphic design software, the default setting for kerning works well, but there might be instances when you need the text to have more space between them for improved readability. It is crucial to remember kerning isn’t mathematical, and it is about perception.
- Leading: The space between two baselines in the text body is leading. The term comes from when typewriters were used, and the lines were separated using pieces of lead. Enhancing leading value will provide you with more breathing room for your text and make it appear better. The overall readability might also improve.
- Tracking: Letter spacing or tracking refers to the spaces between characters in a group text. The space between these characters is typically fixed, and if you increase the tracking space, the density of the typeface will reduce. Usually, tracking helps designers make the lengths of lines appear even.
- Alignment: Typically, alignment refers to the arrangement of the characters in a straight line. You can choose to align your text according to the preferred reading experience. It can be right, left, center, or even justified.
The bottom line
Typography terms are usually misunderstood and misused by people outside of the design world. The guide should have cleared up a few terms for you to discuss with your design team like a pro and get your work done as you had pictured.