If you want to be a great graphic designer, you’re going to need a deep understanding of, and facility with, type. It takes practice and experience, but the path to mastery is not a mystery. Here are 10 typography tips for beginners looking to level up.
Tip #01. Understand the Font FamiliesThe first and most versatile tool in your font tool belt is the font family. Most modern fonts do not exist in isolation, but as part of a set of closely related font treatments. Using such related fonts can help develop unity in your designs.
Tip #02. Use Few FontsThe basic rule is simple: Less is more. The lesser the better it is.
Most experienced designers agree that a strong visual typography uses a limited number of font families.
Tip #03. Respect Font IntegrityNever distort the shape or natural dimensions of a font, unless it’s being used for a specific purpose. Fonts are carefully designed, and distorting them destroys the harmony that others spent months or even years perfecting.
Tip #04. The Art of Kerning
Tip #05. Hierarchy: How Thinking Gets Done
Establishing logical hierarchies is one of the most important functions of type. Clearly distinguished font sizes and selections establish a logical content order within your design. Type helps readers identify the priority order for reading and understanding. You can’t communicate effectively without that.
Tip #06. Get on the Grid
Learning to use a grid system helps create hidden harmonies in your typographical layouts.
Tip #07. Compare and ContrastBlack and white, shades of gray, and color balance all affect how your fonts will read. Laying type over photography, graphics, patterns, or illustrations is an exercise in establishing and maintaining readability and visual pleasure.
Tip #08. Improve Hand Lettering
Every designer will come across projects that demand a human touch. Not only is hand lettering (with digital cleanup) the best way to achieve certain effects, but it’s also the best way to teach yourself to look at and select fonts critically.
Tip #09. Build a Font to Build UnderstandingOnce you’ve introduced hand lettering into a few projects, you’ll start to wonder if these great fonts can live on. This is the best sign that you are ready for the painful yet profoundly satisfying process of designing a font. You can’t get much deeper understanding of fonts than by building one of your own.
Tip#10. Change Your PerspectiveEffective typography has a harmony and balance that results from rigorous visual attentiveness. You can better judge your own work by changing your visual perspective. Make a habit of flipping a design upside down, or looking at a mirror image of it, or viewing color designs in grayscale. If it doesn’t satisfy, tinker. You’ll learn a lot in the process.
Mastery challenges itself. To become a master of typography, you must maintain a high visual metabolism. Take a typography for beginners course if you’re new to this art; read design and typography books; check in regularly with Web publications that make creative use of typography; and expand your boundaries.