Fine-tuning Typographic Elements

Typography is a critically important piece to any web or print design. During my study at Utah Valley University I took a class dedicated to learning the fundamentals of typography. I came away with a deep appreciation for typefaces and how they interact with other elements on a page.

For this particular assignment, I was tasked with focusing on how display type and body type interacted together. The challenge presented was to introduce a symbol and discuss details about it. I chose the pound sign, also known as the hashtag, and originally called the Octothorpe.

I started out by drawing thumbnail images and narrowed down my thumbnails to slightly more elaborate roughs. By drawing my ideas on paper, I was able to quickly render different ideas and also quickly throw out bad ideas. This is an important step that many do not take. Had I jumped straight into Illustrator I would have spent far more time developing my ideas and would have had much fewer ideas to select the best ones from, resulting in a worse final design.

The next step after selecting a rough sketch to base off of, was to create a rough draft in Illustrator. I decided to use Helvetica for both my display type and body type. I used a few different font weights for a little variety. I chose Helvetica because the content had to do with the 60’s and Helvetica was widely-used in the 60’s. Even though Helvetica is still widely-used today, it was featured extensively in advertising of the 1960’s.

After receiving feedback from both my peers and my instructor on the design I implemented some changes. I modified the body copy to improve readability and flow. The body copy was a bit too wordy so I removed sentences and phrases that did not add much to the story.

The body copy felt a bit too tight so I increased the leading. I also reduced the thickness of the horizontal and diagonal stripes in the large symbol to increase the padding on all sides of my body copy. This allowed me to increase the font size to 10 pt to allow for easier reading.

I also increased the font size of the display type and fine-tuned the kerning between characters in the title. In addition to these changes I also carefully read over the material of the body copy to ensure that I used true quotes when appropriate and that there were no typographic, grammatical, and spelling errors present.

I’m proud of how the final version turned out. I received a lot of positive feedback and I feel like my solution achieved the objectives of the task at hand. This was one of many design projects that allowed me to learn more about typography and pay close attention to detail in order to present the best possible result within the allotted timeframe.

Russell Andlauer is a student in the Digital Media program at Utah Valley University, Orem Utah, studying Interaction & Design. The following article relates to Display Type & Text Type in ART-1410 Typography I and is representative of the skills learned.