Basic Principles TYPOGRAPHY

There’s a lot I could say about typography (just ask my family!) but let’s start with some basics.

First of all typefaces have personalities of their own. Plain typefaces send the message that they mean business because they are no-nonsense in their look and feel. Curly fonts tend to be whimsical and romantic. These are the ones you usually see on wedding invitations and personal emails.

Type must be appropriate for the topic, be sympathetic to any images nearby and be suitable for the intended reader. Until recently, there was a view that sans serif fonts – those without pointy ends, such as Arial – were easier to read than serif fonts. Whilst this might be true as a general rule, some recent research suggests that the typefaces we find the easiest to read are those that we grew up with. In other words, the fonts that were in use when we were learning to read, remain the easiest for us to read. Type faces reflect social conditions and go in and out of fashion, just like wedge heels.

You’ll notice that I’m using the terms font and typeface interchangeably here. They aren’t actually the same thing, but the explanation is rather long and tedious so I’m not going to go into that now. Suffice to say that you need to choose your typefaces carefully. Don’t write a board report in comic sans, it just doesn’t send the right message about you or your topic.

You’ll be seeing more about typography in future posts, so stay tuned.

Love Story

Basic Principles BALANCE

Balance is a delicate and natural thing. It can be symmetrical (even on both sides like a butterfly’s wings) or asymmetrical (uneven on each side, but still feeling balanced). There are many examples of balance in nature and I think balance is quite personal. When the balance is right, it just feels right. When it’s wrong, it feels uncomfortable. Off kilter is the way I would describe it.

Balance can be achieved using colour, weight – that is, areas of lightness and darkness – and different textures. The best way for me to explain balance is to ask you to think about serving up a beautiful meal. What are the proportions of the components of your meal? Are there a variety of foods and do they complement one another? Are there a range of textures and tastes, sweet and salty, crunchy and smooth? Is the total effect pleasing and soothing? Is there just the right amount of everything on the plate?

If you are trying to achieve balance, be it in your life or on the page, you need to pay attention to what feels right and trust your instincts.

Design Principles UNITY

There are some fundamental principles of design which you need to get familiar with. Once you do this, you can apply them to all sorts of situations. The first principle is UNITY.

This means very simply that your documents (or slides) should have the same look and feel all the way through. This can be achieved by using consistent fonts and colours and by not mixing up your graphics. For example, if you are using high quality photographs as visuals, don’t just suddenly plonk in some clip art because you can’t find an appropriate photo.

You might be thinking that this will make your work boring or that you don’t have time to fiddle with things to make them match, but UNITY is really important for your audience. It makes your audience feel comfortable without them even knowing why. It makes you look more credible and professional when your work has a unified look and feel.


Image: Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net