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Monthly Archives: August 2018

A Non-Designer’s Guide to Using Fonts

A Non-Designer’s Guide to Using Fonts

To most non-designers, the words “font”, “typeface”, and “typography” are interchangeable. But, from a graphic design perspective, there’s a difference. Although there is a lot of controversy over the terminology, here’s a simple way of looking at it. A typeface is a family of fonts. A font is a specific typestyle within that family. Typography is the art or procedure of arranging type for viewing.

As an example, let’s look at a classic. Helvetica is a typeface, and Helvetica Light, Helvetica Oblique, and Helvetica Bold are fonts. You can own the entire font family (typeface), or you can own individual fonts within that family.

Now that it’s all clear, disregard it. It’s not really important. People usually just call them all “fonts”, anyway. However, which typestyle you use on a given project is very important. Below are some tips to choosing and using the perfect font for your project.

Readability

When choosing a typestyle, first make sure it’s legible. This sounds obvious, but many people get caught up in the lure of a great looking font and forget about readability. When I was in high school, I painted signs by hand for local businesses, organizations and school functions. In the days before the internet, finding typestyles to use consisted of breaking out my father’s Speedball textbook on typestyles.

It contained page after page of full alphabets and numerals in a multitude of typestyles, which varied from simple block letters to elaborate decorative type. One of my first and most important design lessons came from my father, as well. I was trying to decide which typestyle to use for a project, and he said, “First make sure it’s readable, then you can get creative.” I’ve never forgotten this simple, but essential tip. If your typestyle is hard to read, your message has already failed.

Styles of Type

There are too many typefaces to even begin naming, but most can be categorized into four main groups: Serif, Sans-serif, Script, and Decorative.

Serif– This group features small lines (or “feet”) attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol. Serif typestyles are often considered more formal and traditional.

Sans-serif– These feature no extra strokes on the letters. San-serif typestyles are considered more modern and less formal.

Script– Scripted typestyles resemble handwriting, so it’s often used in formal invitations. These are rarely used for smaller body copy because of their limited readability.

Decorative– These are informal typestyles that are often viewed as unique or themed. They’re attention grabbing and are best suited for specific stylized uses.

Avoid Font Trends, unless…

Have you ever noticed that many major businesses and organizations use simple, classic fonts in their logos? Classic typestyles are easy to read and rarely go out of style, so they’ll withstand the test of time. Unless you’re using a trendy typeface for a specific reason, like a retro-themed poster or a child-themed party invitation, it’s best to stick with classic styles. This is especially true when designing a company logo. Classic styles don’t have to be boring, though. There are many variations of classic fonts out there. Don’t get me wrong. I love collecting typefaces as much as any other font-addicted designer, and trendy fonts definitely have their place in projects. Just make sure they fit your specific need, especially if they’re going to be around for the long haul.

Match Your Font to Your Company Image

Each typeface has a mood and personality. When choosing a typestyle, make sure the personality fits the project. Much of this choice is common sense. Classical type families such as Helvetica, Franklin Gothic, Times Roman and their modern variations work great for medical, political and legal professions. If you’re working on a project for a toy store, restaurant, bar or sports establishment, you can have a little more flexibility in your font choice. When looking up typestyles for a specific project, first determine what “personality” the business has, and then choose an appropriate typestyle.

Align!

Even non-designers will notice if your text is off-center or out of alignment. Think of your typeface as any other graphic element. Not everything in a design project has to be aligned to a grid, but for most projects, alignment is key to making a project visually pleasing. If you want your text to be centered on the page, take the time make sure it’s centered perfectly. Make sure your text isn’t too close to other elements on the page, or too near the page borders. Be certain that everything feels balanced.

Avoid Distortion

Typeface designers take a lot of time and care to make sure the fonts they create are perfectly balanced, so avoid distorting or stretching fonts if at all possible. For example, if you need the font to be wider, search for an extended version of the font rather than stretching and misshaping the font.

Limit Your Choices

Combining typestyles is an art form in itself. Fonts can clash just like colors and patterns do. A good general rule is to avoid mixing too many decorative fonts in one project. If you’re using a decorative font on your project and you need a secondary font for additional text, find a simple, clean font to use so it doesn’t distract or clash.

Go Pro 

If you have an important graphic design project ahead of you, it’s always best to hire a professional designer. Graphic designers have an abundance of knowledge about fonts, colors, layout and visual appeal, and an arsenal of tools to make your project shine. They know which typestyle personality to use for any given purpose. They also know which typestyles work well together and which ones don’t. But, if hiring a designer is out of the question, these basic rules will help you get moving in the right direction.

The Deep, Dark Pit of Filmmaking

The Deep, Dark Pit of Filmmaking

I remember one day long ago I had the bright idea to create short films as a hobby. I thought to myself it can’t be to hard all you really need is a camera, and a way to edit video! So that’s what I did I would invite my friends over, and we would make… Continue Reading

Wheelhouse’s Weekly Top 5 | August 20 – 24

Wheelhouse’s Weekly Top 5 | August 20 – 24

Top 5 Marketing, Advertising, Social Media, Technology & Life Happenings This Week Facebook Announces Yet Another Data Leak: Facebook has been making headlines recently for a lot of things, not many of them good. This week they revealed that nearly 4 million users of the app myPersonality may be at risk of a data breach.… Continue Reading

Epic Story Telling

Epic Story Telling

I have been involved in film making and digital video story telling pretty much my whole life. My camera and editing suite have been as close to me as my own brother. I feel as if this equipment is a part of me. I love great production hardware and software, and I love making it… Continue Reading

Wheelhouse’s Weekly Top 5 | August 13 -17

Wheelhouse’s Weekly Top 5 | August 13 -17

Top 5 Marketing, Advertising, Social Media, Technology & Life Happenings This Week Google is Tracking Your Movements, For Real: I don’t know if this is surprising or not to most of you but yes, Google has officially made a statement saying they do, in fact, record your movements even when you have told them not… Continue Reading

Finding the Perfect Shot

Finding the Perfect Shot

The first thing I want to know on a video set is where my shot is. Once I know my shot and shot location I’m able to light it, dress it and figure out the motion. It’s TV folks. It’s magic, or at least it looks like it. Our job as Wheelhouse Creative’s video production… Continue Reading

Wheelhouse’s Weekly Top 5 | August 6 – 10

Wheelhouse’s Weekly Top 5 | August 6 – 10

Top 5 Marketing, Advertising, Social Media, Technology & Life Happenings This Week Whole Foods to *Finally* Offer Digital Grocery Pickup: Two weeks ago, we wrote about Walmart’s partnership with Waymo, where they’ll shuttle customers to the store to pick up their groceries on top of already offering online grocery pickup in at least 1,800 US stores.… Continue Reading

Overcoming Creative Block – Tips from a Graphic Design Pro

Overcoming Creative Block – Tips from a Graphic Design Pro

“The frightening and most difficult thing about being what somebody calls a creative person is that you have absolutely no idea where any of your thoughts come from, really. And especially, you don’t have any idea about where they’re going to come from tomorrow.” This opening line by Hal Riney from the 2009 documentary Art… Continue Reading

Account Executives: The Ones Who Wear Many Hats

Account Executives: The Ones Who Wear Many Hats

For those who did not know, Amazon’s iconic Prime Day was on Monday, July 16. Amazon Prime Day is a one-day only global shopping event exclusively for Amazon Prime members. This day is like Black Friday in July for Amazon, they more than likely spend months, weeks and days preparing for everything to be perfect for… Continue Reading

Wheelhouse’s Weekly Top 5 | July 30 – August 3

Wheelhouse’s Weekly Top 5 | July 30 – August 3

Industry Report July 30 – August 3 Big Mac Celebrates 50th Birthday:  The Big Mac has been dominating fast food culture for the past 50 years. This year, McDonald’s will celebrate the burger’s anniversary by rolling out a new way to pay for this guilty pleasure. Introducing “MacCoin”, a play off the term “Bitcoin” that… Continue Reading

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