What is typography? In the past, the term concealed a multitude of definitions that have lost their validity and significance due to social and technological change.
Today we understand “typography” to mean design with writing. One could also call it “the teaching of designing with writing”. Whereby also this alone is not an exact definition. Perhaps it would be better: typography pursues the goal of increasing the optimal readability and impact of the text. The art here is the correct handling of typographic design elements such as lines, surfaces and images. Even if the creative scope is large, certain guidelines must be observed.
Micro- and Macrotypography
Microtypography (or detailed typography) describes the design of a typeface and its application. This includes the font design and the typometry (architecture, geometry) of the characters.
Macrotypography (layout) describes the overall visual impression of the design or arrangement of typesetting work on a print or web page. Among other things, the print and type area and the proportions between image and text are determined here.
What is good typography?
For me, a harmonious appearance, but also an exciting structure of the typeface is the basis for a good design. The font itself, but above all the well-thought-out arrangement, are the cornerstones of good typography. The most beautiful font loses any effect if the arrangement is chosen inappropriately. If you don’t have much experience with this, there are certain “guidelines” to follow:
- a symmetrical (axial) arrangement conveys equality and regularity. An asymmetrical (anaxial) arrangement, on the other hand, has an idiosyncratic and free effect.
- line widths, line groups and paper format must be in a harmonious relationship to each other. This division is to be judged from the optical and the metric (e.g. golden section) point of view. Ultimately, however, the optical impression is the more important.
- Less is more!
Of course, good typography must also be optimally geared to the target group, the (advertising) message and the end product. After all, it doesn’t help if, for example, the brochure for a parish is set in small, illegible type in graffiti style. This must be considered therefore absolutely before. If everything fits together and the product is “round”, every customer is quickly convinced and is happy to come back.
Also the correct application must be considered. Fonts, which were developed for a certain purpose, should be used also for it! A good example of this is the “Frutiger” by Adrian Frutiger (a swiss typeface designer, 1928 – 2015). This font was developed for optimal readability from a distance. Ideal for posters and signs! Nevertheless it is used again and again in long continuous texts, even whole books were written with it. It’s a disaster …