The display and arrangement of letterforms (typography) is one of the pillars of graphic design. How it’s used can often spur intense debate. For example, some designers feel that type should be like a window that you can “see through” to discern the meaning of the text. Any attempt at making the type a decorative or image element undermines that. While other designers feel type can be “expressive”, conveying meaning by it’s graphic form, textual meaning be damned.

Whatever your opinions about type may be there are some properties of typography that we must be familiar with if.

When discussing typography, it is necessary to understand the terminology. Here is a wonderful site that has an extensive list of typographic terms. Once you are familiar with some of type’s different properties you can begin to compare typefaces to see how they differ. Here is a fun way to get familiar with the art of letter spacing or kerning.

But typography is more than just dissecting a typeface into its component parts. When used well, type can add meaning to the text. It can also be expressive, although some old school typographers reject the use of type in this way. The History of Typography.

The following clips are from the movie ‘Helvetica’ by director Gary Hurstwit. The movie is ostensibly about the typeface that defined modern graphic design, but it also tackles some of the issues surrounding graphic design in general.

Michael Beirut discusses what Helvetica meant to modern graphic design.

David Carson discusses how breaking the rules of traditional typography leads to creative results.

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