Introduction into Typography

Mon 26th Sept

In this lecture, we were taught about the basics of typography and given information about what the different parts of the letter are referred to as.

Typography? – the architecture of ideas and making of language; sculpting of experience (a book, narrative); the management of letters, it’s composition; painting with words; the history, how we read; visual language and letterform, the arrangement of language.

Type can be formed in serif or sans serif font and it is measured in point sizes. Typeface is measured in terminology and there are various different terms used for each part of the letter.

Style is the visual appearance/aesthetic of the typeface and gains meaning in three ways:

  • Intuitive: e.g. curves and delicacy: feminine/refinement, angles and heaviness: masculinity
  • Origins: e.g. time/place/technology
  • Context: main area for the graphic design, what is it for?

We were told about several different terminologies of typefaces and what they are/usually used for. These are:

  • Geometric Sans Serif: geometric forms; simple to read
  • Humanist: handwriting; clean, modern look; detail; thinner and thicker stroke rates
  • Old Style: classic; traditional
  • Transitional: sharp
  • Modern: Strong; stylist; dynamic
  • Slab serif: sold; many associations



As part of the intro into typography, we had to trace different letterforms from serif and sans serif forms, focusing on the application of how it was written, being conscious of how the letters sat on the baseline and the tracking, leading and kerning. We also had to take words that had incorrect kerning and correct it by cutting it up and realigning them. The tracing of the letters was probably the easiest bit but it was concentrating on getting the right kerning and how the letters sat on the line was the most difficult. The ‘e’ was tricky to get right as it has to sit slightly under the baseline to give the illusion that it is the same size as the other square letters. I have a better understanding of type terminology and how letters sit on a page.


Author: ellenreiddesign

First year Graphic Communication student at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

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