Design Basics: Fonts & Type Tools
Et Cetera ...
Cool Typography: Fonts, Lettering, Typefaces for Web Design and Print
Do you love fonts and typefaces? I like to play with type and lettering - I love fonts, especially the public domain and shareware kind. Look good in print and on your blog or web page with nifty typefaces, and learn to avoid typography mistakes when designing your own web site, blog or printed materials.
In this fonts article you'll find the best typography web sites and tips for working with type. You'll also learn graphic designer tricks of the trade, and how to create cool word art using dingbat fonts and clip art or manipulated typeface characters.
Too many fonts make a project look like a ransom note. Unless that's your intention, limit your design to include 1 or 2 typefaces. When in doubt, use an attractive sans serif font for headings and chapters, and a serif face for the text or body type.
Photo: Typographers E gauge, font specification and layout tool by jeltovski, morguefile.com
Fun with Fonts Letterforms - Visual Communication & Type as Art
Type and lettering are vital methods for us to communicate visually. Artful use of typography enhances the meaning of displayed text. Letterforms perceived as images attract the eye and are highly compelling; they're important for communication in all languages.
History is filled with examples of typographic embellishment or graffiti on every markable surface - from walls to books, buildings, flags, clothing, jewelry, handbills, print media and packaging.
It seems like everyone loves fonts - you can find thousands of examples online by surfing the web sea of personal pages, DIY web sites, blog posts, and banner maker font toys. You can select and use a typeface for a specific project, or add it to your word processing and graphics editor.
One of the first things people try their hand at with any publishing tool is to change the typeface to another size, another style, another color ... then they progress to warping, or flashing, or outlines and special effects: shadows, curves, stretching, skewing, adding pattern fills, 3-D, making word art and animation.
What is it about type that is so compelling and makes us want to play with letters? Who knows, but there are many places to find fonts and typography toys, so read on and have Fun with Fonts.
My first contact with a computer was because of fonts. It was in 1979, and I was working as a typesetting operator on a CompuGraphic machine. I sometimes miss the days of when you could really work with fonts as you laid out a page, tweaking the ligatures, kerns and other typographical technical adjustments.
But on the other hand, it's a lot easier to change fonts using my PC than it was for me to open a lid of a machine the size of a small automobile to remove a film strip that's spinning on a drum at thousands of RPMs just to change the font for a single headline caption.
I do still tweak fonts when they become vector art. I convert characters or phrases to outlines then modify the shapes and ligatures in Adobe Illustrator, but that's a whole different story.
Just for fun: learn the correct name pronunciation for popular European type faces we all know, love and use for our design work including Bodoni, Univers, Kabel, Palatini and Bauhaus.
Typography & Design Books
This is the type book we used as a textbook in design school.
Font Basics - Serif / Sans Serif
Those little curly things on a font are called serifs.
A serif is a calligraphic or typographic characteristic of a letterform. They appear on letters and symbols in a complete font. They're small extra curls or embellishments added to the strokes of letters to distinguish them or make them artistically unique. If a font doesn't have serifs, it's classified as a "sans serif" typeface. The term sans comes from the French word meaning "without." Sometimes typographers identify or name a sans serif with the terms "Gothic" or "grotesque" and a serif face might be referenced as a "Roman" font.
- Popular Sans Serif Typefaces - Arial is the most well known sans serif font on Windows computers, but there are many others that predate computer fonts that have been updated for desktop publishing use. This article lists 10 classics generally used as text or body fonts.
- Classic Serif Type Faces - Linotype presents classic and favorite serif typefaces, including history for some fonts, sample usage for more than a dozen, and a good explanation of the types of serif found on various serif typefaces (bracketed, slab, hairline).
- Wikipedia - Learn more about serif, sans serif, Roman, black, slanted, oblique and various fontographer terms.
So you want to be a graphic designer ... you need to understand how to communicate.
Type-Heads - For Font Freaks and Typography Fans - If you're really into typography, check out these links!
- SOTA : The Society of Typographic Aficionados
The Society of Typographic Aficionados (SOTA) is a non-profit, volunteer-driven organization devoted to type, typography, and the related arts.
- ATypI-Assoiciation Typographique Internationale
ATypI (Association Typographique Internationale) is the premier worldwide organisation dedicated to type and typography. Founded in 1957, ATypI provides the structure for communication, information and action amongst the international type community.
- The Right Typeface for Text
PDF article from Before & After magazine - sharing its practical approach to graphic design since 1990.
- Typofile Magazine - Home
Almost everything we know in the world can be described in just 26 letters--isn't that amazing? Yet this most visible art--which we all see all around us each day--has long been invisible in most people's minds. Part of this was intentional - because
- EsperFonto - Type Face Selector
Typeface / Font selection system - choose the most appropriate FONT for your job with the help of this nifty online tool.
- Choose Your Fonts Well - Type Tells a Story
Concise words of advice for typeface selection - type tips from Seth Godin.
Cool Font Tools
Bend me, shape me, glitter me, convert me ...
Perfect for scrapbooking and journals, a handwriting font makes the page seem more personal. If you love the look of handwritten text, you can get handwritten style fonts and even make one in your own handwriting.
Font Tools and Toys - fonts, word art makers, warpers and more.
Create Your Own Cool Fonts with PhotoShop - learn to create custom fonts using the path tool
What the Font - put a name to a face when you know what it looks like but not the font name.
Drop Caps & Manuscript Initials - Illuminata and Attention Grabbers
Drop Caps are handy devices for guiding the reader to important information. You can create them with graphics, or with HTML, or with a desktop publishing program's typographic controls and features.
This drop cap example utilizes HTML style controls - check out the linked articles below to find out how to add this feature to your manuscript, blog or web page.
Specialty Font Sources
- Free fonts for graphic designers
Hand selected typefaces to use for free or buy a commercial license.
- Font Diner
Retro style fonts and type history - cool, hip fun site.
- Graffiti Fonts
Graffiti fonts - limited edition free typefaces, including FatCap, Magik Marker, RapScript, Paint Cans, Scrawler, Cali Chisel plus VectorGraff Drawing Application, 30 Stock Images, Opcion Font Viewer & more.
- MusicEffect Band Fonts
Fonts from band logos-band fonts, music fonts, metal fonts, different fonts. Indexed by band name, with cool mouse-over previewer.
- Handwriting Fonts
Learn where you can find free Handwriting Fonts to use for homeschool and educational use.
- Unique Lettering: Skull Font
Letters of the alphabet created with skulls in this no cost skull font (true type and open type versions).
Doodle Fonts, Ding Bats, Glyphs, Symbols
Type a key, get a picture ...
Cool Dingbat Collection Font Paradise ding bats collections
Tom 7/Divide by Zero Hand drawn and grungy dingbat characters.
Deliahs Doodles from Fonts for Peas Happy little doodle characters and caricature fonts, free for personal use
Dinosaur Fonts - no, not old and obsolete fonts but picture fonts with dinosaur characters instead of letters!
Typeface Identifiers - What Font is This?
Forget the name of the font? You can figure it out with this nifty tool.
Have you ever forgotten the name of a font or typeface you used to design a project or spruce up a written document? It's frustrating, and also very common - even for professional designers. Well, don't pull out all those catalogs and sample sheets, just use an online identification program to figure out that familiar face. MyFonts offers a free service to help you get reaquainted.
What the Font is a neat online tool that can help you figure out what font you used. You can upload an image to the database or specify an URL that has the font and you'll get assistance from the font detectives at What the Font, a service of Myfonts.com.
MyFonts also offers many helpful tips and guidelines for submitting a font for identification. The best samples to submit are scanned images with characters about 100 pixels in height on a horizontal baseline.
Word Art - Font Graphics - Calligraphy, too
When you're designing a special print or online piece, you may need an illustration that's made from cleverly designed letters or characters. This section will guide you to my favorite word art and calligraphy type links and free resources. You'll find images to snag and ideas that will inspire you to use type and fonts to make your own art.
Stylized Word ArtClick thumbnail to view full-size
- Word Art--Gulf War
Peace activist's pen & ink drawings from the Gulf War based on quotes and word art.
- The Word Art of Juan Osborne | Webdesigner Depot
Fine art quality graphical posters created from lettering and word art.
- Centsational Girl Blog Archive - Word Art
I'm a simple gal with a simple dream: transforming the drab into the fab with an arsenal of paintbrushes, primer and power tools. I completely reject the notion that second hand is second class. I shop thrift stores, flea markets, antique stores, and
- Wordle - Beautiful Word Clouds
DIY Word Art Collages - Wordle is a toy for generating "word clouds" from text that you provide from a page or list.
© 2008 Lee Hansen