The distance between characters is controlled by tracking, kerning and letterspacing. Tracking is adjusted to change the space between characters consistently across a block of text. This may be used to increase legibility for an entire magazine article. Kerning is the reduction of space between characters, and letterspacing is the addition of space between characters. These smaller, precise adjustments may be used to tweak a specific word, such as in a logo design, or a large headline of a story in a newspaper. All of the settings may be experimented with to create artistic text effects.
It’s not absolutely necessary for most font users to know the precise difference between a spur and a beak or a tail and a leg, but it is fun and can make you feel and sound smart. Instead of resorting to terms such as “that little round thingamagig at the top of the f” or “the curvy connector bit in the middle of the funny-looking g” you can use real terms like ball terminal or the link in a double-storey g. Take a look at three broad terms with which most designers should have at least a nodding aquaintence and several related elements that help define a typeface.
Typography is crucial to almost all design projects. It is important to understand basic typography terms, how to use it effectively and how to find and identify the best fonts for a project.
The different options available within a typeface, such as roman, bold and italic, make up a type family. Times New Roman and Helvetica are examples of type families. These families are extremely useful because a designer can use just one or two within a project, but still have a wide variety of styles to choose from. This helps to achieve a consistent design.
Serifs are small lines at the ends of character strokes. Sans serif, or without serif, refers to typefaces without these lines. Sans serif fonts are often used when a large typeface is necessary, such as in a magazine headline. Helvetica is a popular sans serif typeface. Sans serif fonts are also common for website text, as they can be easier to read on screen. Arial is a sans serif typeface that was designed specifically for on-screen use.
Serif fonts are recognizable by the small lines at the ends of the various strokes of a character. As these lines make a typeface easier to read by guiding the eye from letter to letter and word to word, serif fonts are often used for large blocks of text, such as in a book. Times New Roman is an example of a common serif font.