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Posted by Thera on May 21, 2014

Last month we published part 1 of our 3 part series, BTI Design 101, which discussed the impact that colour has on design. This month we will explore the subtle art of typography, an element of design that is often seen as less important than visuals and colours.

Typography Basics
Good typography can play a vital role in the effectiveness of a design. What typefaces are used, how they are sized and spaced, and how they compliment the messaging are all taken into consideration when working through designs for both print and web.

When executed properly, typography should not only look good, but should help enhance the character and voice of a brand. Choosing the right fonts and creating hierarchy within a layout through sizing and spacing, are important in ensuring that the idea is communicated clearly in a way that is non-distracting to the viewer.


This vibrant infographic uses colour and hierarchy along with limited fonts to help convey multiple messages.

Some Rules for Effective Typography
As creative people, we realize that in many cases, design rules are made to be broken, however, here are a few typography guidelines that help us create effective designs that deliver.

1. Select appropriate fonts:
Select fonts that compliment your brand voice and the message being delivered. Much like colour, there are psychological associations with typographic categories. Below are four of the main categories and their general associations:

Serif fonts are associated with tradition, respectability, reliability, and comfort.

Sans Serif fonts are clean, and are also associated with stability and objectivity.

 Script fonts are fluid and based on handwriting. They convey elegance, affection and creativity.

 Slab Serif fonts are bold, and evoke a feeling of strength and power.

2. Limit the amount of fonts used:
We generally like to keep the amount of typefaces used within a given design to 2 or 3. With so many fonts available to designers, it’s easy to be tempted to throw a bunch of styles and sizes on a page, but often times this creates confusion to the viewer.

3. Use type size to create hierarchy:
Using different type sizes and weights is an easy way to create hierarchy within a design. As mentioned above, it is a good idea to limit the amount of type sizes used in a certain design in order to achieve a clean and clear visual.

4. Make it readable:
This is the number one rule. Simply put, a graphic design does not work if the viewer has to struggle to get the message. Picking a legible font, sizing it properly and spacing it well all contribute to the readability of a design.

Here are some examples of our work that incorporates all of the rules above:

Using typography as the basis of our annual Christmas card we created a unique and fun holiday message, using large painted letters. 

By using custom san serif fonts and typographic hierarchy we were able to create a clever poster design.

Taking the letter “O” and using it as an illustrated icon made this logo unique and complimentary to the brand name. 

Using multiple typographic styles within the same family helped us create a content heavy layout that is still easily navigated by the reader.

This poster features some fun typography both in its background and in the custom “origami” style typeface.

The Teriyaki Experience poster adds illustration to a bold expressive script, which helps to compliment the spiciness of the dish.

For this in-store poster, we overlapped the typeface and skewed it upwards to create eye-catching typography that is bold and legible when viewed at a distance.

Typography as Art
When used creatively, type can become an art form of its own.

Here are some great examples of typography as art as seen in various poster designs and logos.

Typography is so much more than letters and words. As you’ve seen, it is an integral part of any design, and in some cases can be the entire basis for a piece of artwork. Next time you view an ad, website or printed piece look deeper and take notice of how the typography truly brings the message to life. Join us next month for our final instalment of BTI Design 101  where we analyze the value of shape and layout.