Confessions of a Typophile

Confessions of a Typophile

A graphic designer can spend hours upon hours on deciding the perfect typeface in which to use on a project. This is not just because we are all registered typophiles’, but because we take into consideration the semiotic content behind the type. We know that the visual language been used in a project can speak louder than the actual verbal language, and typography can take control of the overall initial concept. Below is a simple example of this methodology with the word ‘Hello’.


Here are two versions of the word ‘hello’, both have the same verbal meaning but because of the different use of typography they each have contrasting semiotic contents.

The ‘hello’ on the left reflects a friendly hello. It’s a rounded type, big and bold, set in lowercase and tracked (space between letters) tightly. It’s positioned on the top of the page giving it a loud, dominant feel. You can imagine someone saying this ‘hello’ being perky and pleased to see you while having a big friendly smile on their face.

The ‘hello’ on the right is in complete contrast to the previous ‘hello’. It’s a straight angled type, small and italicised, set in uppercase with tracking generous. It’s position on the page is low surrounded by a lot of white space which gives it a subservient, quiet feel. If you imagined someone saying this ‘hello’ you would get an unwelcoming feeling and that they are not really bothered to see you.

Essentially graphic designers see typefaces as people (hence the word type’faces’). They each have a different character and personality.

While keeping this methodology in mind, a designer also has to stick to all the rules in typography, such as leading, tracking, kerning and not forgetting the important hierarchy, (but I won’t bore you with that side of things). With all of these factors in mind, and a million different typefaces, with a million different personalities, in a million different styles. Typography can have numerous possibilities for designers, and it can take a bit of time to get the notion they want to convey to viewers.

So the next time you can’t understand why a graphic designer has spent an ‘unnecessary’ amount of time on the type and typography of a project, think again. Typography is a crucial, very important part of any design, as it can be the ‘be all’ or ‘end all’ of any design project.

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