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Typography: The Backbone of Good Design

When people think of typography, it’s easy to assume it’s just picking the right font. But there is so much more to it than that. Typography can make or break a piece of writing or your printed materials. Typography encompasses the overall style of the text and that style can either engage a reader or lose their attention. Thanks to the information found in Butterick’s Practical Typography, we’re going to break down what typography is and why it matters.

Matthew Butterick, the author of the book, defines typography as “the visual component of the written word.” Typography evokes meaning and it can be used to further guide readers and persuade them. Good typography reinforces the meaning of the text and while it can be art, it ultimately serves a utilitarian function above all else.

Typography needs to be readable, short, and engaging. It needs to grab attention because readers are looking for reasons to stop paying attention. It’s a typographer’s or designer’s job to cater to people’s short attention spans because once it’s lost, the opportunity to persuade or convey the message behind the text is gone.

In the book, Butterick details 3 major points that lead to solid typography:

1) As we’ve discussed, good typography reinforces the text. Not all choices work for all texts because one size doesn’t fit all.

2) Many solutions could be good and it’s up to the designer to decide which solution is the best fit because…

3) The ability to produce good typography depends on the understanding of the text’s goals, not taste. You might like the way a certain font or style looks but if it doesn’t serve the needs of the text, it is not good typography.

Another point Butterick makes is that it is okay for typography to be ugly. If ugly is what reinforces the meaning of the text, then ugly is the right way to go. Look at street signs. The text on a street sign isn’t really aesthetically pleasing. But it’s readable, clear, and concise, as it needs to be.

Now when it comes to the needs of your business, it’s important to take these points into consideration so your printed materials can look their best. Not only will we assist you with your graphic design needs, but we’ll also make sure the typography is sound and reinforces the text you’ve given us. If you’re interested in working with well-rounded designers who understand good typography, contact us and we will produce the printed materials your business needs.

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