Visual design & handoff

Typography basics

Colton Schweitzer
October 14, 2020

Typography alone can make or break your designs. You don’t want to leave this one to chance. If you aren’t a visual designer, the thought of typography might increase your heart rate. It can be hard to tell why a typographic arrangement doesn’t look right. When you can’t figure out why something doesn’t look right, you end up experimenting. The end result can quickly turn Comic Sans on you.

There are two main typographic styles: serifs and sans serifs.

On one hand, serif fonts have strokes that end the letterforms. The “t” and the “f” have curved endings. Serif fonts present as more formal, traditional, and classic. They have an air of refinement.

On the other hand, the same sans serif letters end sharply. Sans serifs feel more relaxed and modern. Sans serif fonts are used across most modern apps and websites. 

Once you’ve chosen a font (or fonts), there are two main things to keep in mind:

Be consistent with your font(s).

This includes the styles and the font scale (range of different font sizes, H1, H2, etc.). From time to time it can be tempting to add a new text style. While it may not seem like a big deal, introducing a random font greatly diminishes the effectiveness of your font scale. Create your font scale before starting your project and stick to it. 

Take as much time as needed to define the font size and weight of your font scale. Once finished, use only these styles of text in your designs. Doing this will allow you to stay focused and not use random font sizes that look out of place. The end result will be consistent typography that looks harmonious.

Make sure your font has enough contrast.

You can create contrast in font through font scales, font weight, and font color. Proper contrast helps people see what’s most important, understand what’s going on, and find what they’re looking for. 

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