Questions about the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. Text is composed to create a readable, coherent, and visually satisfying whole.

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41
votes
6answers
2k views

What are best practices for choosing and pairing fonts?

I've always found font selection to be a little bit of a mystery. What factors should be considered when choosing a font? How does one successfully incorporate two fonts into a design? I realize that ...
30
votes
6answers
2k views

How can I describe the font I am looking for or looking at?

I have no experience regarding Graphic Design, so this is kind of a intro question. If I have a font I'd like to identify, but cannot describe the details/semantics of it, how would I explain it? ...
25
votes
7answers
4k views

“Serifs improve fast, easy readability for long text” - myth or truth?

It's an old question, but an important one. Let's see if we can get a good, nuanced, ideally evidence-based answer. So, old-school wisdom (certainly, how I was taught back in the day) says that serif ...
21
votes
2answers
12k views

Difference between kerning vs letter spacing?

What is the difference between kerning vs. letter spacing?
21
votes
6answers
35k views

What font types are good for a technical document?

What are some good fonts to use for a highly technical document? Is there any specific type that should be used/avoided?
18
votes
1answer
1k views

Why do some fonts make I, l, 1 look the same?

Why do some fonts make the I,l,1 characters look identical? There are fonts where they don't just look similar - they are the same exact pixel locations. Why were they ever created? I'm guessing ...
17
votes
1answer
842 views

What are standard ratios for typography on the web?

In laying out a web design, I often try to make sure that my typography is proportional and consistent. However, I haven't been able to find any definitive articles or resources on what ratios and ...
16
votes
3answers
256 views

My Xylophone is off key; Understanding this kerning

I was playing a kerning game where the goal is to see if you can kern a word by eye and then compare your kerning with that of the designer. I was doing... ok. Until I got to: I kerned is as such: ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

Why all the hate? --Two spaces after the period

The nuns enforced it with a ruler: two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence. I, along with many others do this instinctively. Why is this considered incorrect/improper in printed materials ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

Where do professional designers “go” to look for typefaces?

I'm just reading The Non-Designer's Design Book by Robin Williams and am very impressed how on almost every page, Ms. Williams seems to "pull out" some beautiful typeface which I've never heard of. ...
15
votes
1answer
223 views

What's the term used when the first word of one page is repeated at the end of the previous page?

There's a common feature in old typography where the first word of a page is repeated at the end of the previous page, usually right-aligned on a line by itself. This book from 1759 shows this ...
15
votes
2answers
253 views

What is the effect of ligatures in web, regarding SEO

All designers love ligatures but vanilla web typography just sucks. I heard of smartypants that solves many of thoses issues, bringing sexy quotes, gorgeous ampersands and all. It's just perfect, ...
14
votes
3answers
803 views

Does hyphenation increase legibility?

All I could find on the subject was this paper, which is pretty interesting in itself. But it only deals with preference. 57% of the test subject prefers hyphenated text. This is kind of surprising ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

What does a “normal” British pound sign look like?

I'm working on creating a glyph for the British pound sterling for a typeface I'm working on, and I realized that not only is it a bit of an oddity, it's an oddity that I, as someone from the United ...
14
votes
4answers
1k views

Baseline Grid vs. Readability

Any designer worth their salt will talk about the importance of the grid, and rightfully so. However, as I've continued to practice my trade, I've found that the baseline grid in particular doesn't ...
13
votes
6answers
8k views

How are Serif and Sans-serif fonts different, and when should one use one over the other?

What is the difference between these fonts, and what are some typical examples of why one might be used over another?
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Is ampersand allowed at the beginning of line?

In my recent project, playing with responsive web design, I've noticed that ampersand in my text landed at the beginning of a line with certain page widths. I personally find it a bit ugly... I can ...
13
votes
3answers
731 views

Why do we still use points as a measurement of type size?

I'm in the UK, which uses metric units for pretty much everything now except road distances and beer (obviously best kept apart). Page sizes have been metric here and in most of the rest of the world ...
12
votes
3answers
261 views

Font overload in academic documents

I'm a researcher in cryptography and regularly read and write acedemic papers which are, to say the least, not objects of great beauty. Recently I've noticed that the guideline not to use more than ...
12
votes
1answer
283 views

What considerations are there in designing pixel fonts?

I'm designing monospace pixel fonts for a game, and so far I've only been able to work with extremely small sizes (largest I've managed is 5x9) because those ones are the easiest to try and err with. ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

Optimum line height in relation to font size

Is there an agreement on the optimum mathematical proportion of line height and the size of a text? And if there is, is it the same for print and web?
11
votes
4answers
1k views

What is kerning and what is the point of it?

From what I see here, it seems kerning is just rearranging the space between letters. However, the comments here lead me to believe there's more to the story. Is kerning really that simple? Is the ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Why do newspapers use multiple columns?

This might not be the right place to ask, but I was wondering why newspapers use multiple columns? Does it take up less space, or is there a visual reason?
11
votes
4answers
968 views

Do discretionary ligatures hold any other purpose than visual?

Discretionary ligatures are non-standard ligatures such as: st and ct in Atlantica LF font Are they purely visual or is there any other reasoning to back it up? Psychological? Letter-press related? ...
11
votes
7answers
448 views

Lorem ipsum equivalent for Spanish, Polish and other languages?

I'm testing out some fonts, and I'd like to see how they look with language that use more than the basic latin alphabet, in my case Dutch, German, Spanish, Polish and Portuguese. Is there a tool ...
11
votes
3answers
15k views

What's the difference between opentype vs. truetype

I know very little about typography. What are the differences in terms of opentype vs truetype. I do know that they are types of formats to render fonts (correct me if i'm wrong). Are there ...
11
votes
2answers
273 views

How should ascenders and descenders that share the same space be handled?

This is the initial registration page for my client's communication app. ( I covered over the logo - note the white box - for his privacy) I do not like that the "y" descends and the "h" ascends into ...
10
votes
5answers
1k views

What characters are good to start with when designing a typeface?

Given many characters in a typeface build on others and even just a couple of characters can reveal a lot of the features of a given typeface, what characters are good to start with when designing a ...
10
votes
2answers
146 views

Kerning Feedback

I'm currently looking at a new font for a logo and I'm having some issues with the kerning of our lettering. I've search the web for guidance on kerning, in particular when using double lowercase ...
10
votes
5answers
13k views

Visually similar alternatives to Helvetica?

I'd like to use something similar-but-different for my poster project. I've already ruled out: Arial Avant Garde/Futura - too geometric Frutiger - too humanist /'friendly' I guess I'm looking for ...
10
votes
3answers
564 views

Should underline clash with text descenders?

CSS3’s text-decoration module includes a text-underline-position property, which specifies whether the underline should be positioned below the whole text:            or just below baseline, letting ...
10
votes
4answers
329 views

How do I deal with line spacing when a single descender is getting in the way?

I'm making a sign for my kids' school, and am having trouble with one detail. The primary text is "Walking School Bus Stop". This, the school name, and a whimsical graphic all go into a 3:4 aspect ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there any open-source alternative to Fontlab out there?

I used to work with Fontlab Studio to design and compile my fonts. Years have passed and my former Fontlab install vanished into the voids of a crashing harddisk. Now that I'm gaining interest in ...
10
votes
2answers
261 views

Justification and hyphenation without proper time and tools?

In my computer science studies we are being forced to write a report every now and then. I have a background in web development and have worked closely with both print and web designers for many years ...
10
votes
5answers
372 views

How can I represent a country with a font?

I am working on a multilingual book about some European Union countries. The selected are: Poland, Greece, Spain, Italy, Romania, Czech Republic, Austria, Turkey and Estonia. I wish to write a ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

What's the practical difference between a 'glyph' and a 'character'?

I saw this question on the Typography site proposal and it bugged me that I didn't know the answer. I'd always treated 'glyph' and 'character' as interchangable. After reading an explanation on the ...
10
votes
1answer
254 views

How do I achieve the equivalent of using small caps in Arabic?

I have this letterhead title in Hebrew, English, and Arabic, in which I set the English to Small Caps (that is, the first letter is a big capital, the rest are small). Now, in Hebrew, the letters are ...
9
votes
7answers
1k views

Alternative to Lorem Ipsum (dummy text) for websites

Lorem Ipsum has been the known default for dummy text. Per a search the last discussion in regards to alternatives is two years old. I thought I would post a new thread on this topic. So, what are ...
9
votes
5answers
802 views

Does the difference between a 'font' and a 'typeface' subside?

Originally, the typeface is a particular design of type, while a font is a type in a particular size and weight. In short, a typeface usually gathers many fonts. Nowadays, with digit design of ...
9
votes
4answers
353 views

Principles of Typography for different languages

Sometimes German students ask me how to do the typesetting of documents in English, French or Spanish. I'm not able to help them because I never learned to speak or write French or Spanish. ...
9
votes
6answers
308 views

What's the name for typography that looks like the meaning of its content?

For example a flame who looks like a flame Or a typography snow who looks like snow Do you know the name of this exercice ?
9
votes
3answers
219 views

How should you web design with foreign typography

Some web design and development projects client's will request capabilities for a foreign translation in their site. How can you account for this and what are some good practices for content ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

Which is easier on the eyes: dark-on-light or light-on-dark?

While working on my latest website, I started actually wondering if what I learned in grade school was true. I've been taught that programs like Word default to use a white background with black text ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Examples of good academic poster design

Do you have any good examples of academic poster design? Most posters look exactly the same (I don't want to pick on anyone in particular), and from my experience at conferences, almost nobody reads ...
9
votes
1answer
255 views

When/why is an “o” superscripted and underlined?

When can you use an underlined superscript "o"? I know that it is used for numero № Can it be used for company? C°
9
votes
2answers
1k views

What are the best practices and techniques to fix rags?

What would be the best practices to fix the rags on a left aligned text for print. Besides breaking lines and hyphenations, should you use tracking, and if so how much. Also, how would you judged a ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

Readability and appeal of justified text

If I write a document that I have to hand in to somebody (a report, summary, draft, whatever) I usually justify the text because it seems more appealing (at least to me) if it all finishes at the same ...
8
votes
3answers
290 views

What is the name for making words equal in length?

I'm trying to find the name or ("term") for this: What is it called when the size of individual or groups of words are increased proportionally in size so that they are all the same width?
8
votes
1answer
186 views

How typographers make bolder/lighter versions of their fonts?

I suppose in older times typographers had to redraw the entire character set, but I'd guess there's some good heuristics to make a character bolder/lighter in software and then make some manual ...
8
votes
4answers
349 views

Is there a typographical term for vertically-stacked characters?

I recently discovered this type technique in the July/August edition of Little White Lies Magazine. Here's an example of the typography: I wish to know, is there a term for the technique of ...