📝 Penn Graphic Design Week 4 – Typography and Recording

Typography Intro

  • “Communication for designers:
  • is purposeful (leads to or qualifies action in a design context)
  • is not random, speculative, a work of art, self-contained, self-justifying”

  • What is a Designer: things places, messages – Norman Potter

Choose typefaces with intentionality and reasoning.

  • Typography should always support your concept and reflect its purpose. If the above is a traditional road sign, the first one feels a little more legible to a wider range of people from a distance. The bottom sign might be appropriate in special instances, but probably not Highway 101.

  • Research the typefaces you’re using and maintain thoughtful decisions as to how they relate to your content.
  • Building out a vocabulary for different type styles can help you see differences in type and find formal and conceptual qualities to connect to your design directions.
  • Serif, sans-serif or something else could be initial categorizations to narrow down your search


  • Understanding the content that you’re going to design for is incredibly important. Like with the road sign example – it wouldn’t make sense to have an ornate typeface on a heavily trafficked highway.
  • Typography can help visualize the voice of the author.
  • Typography can also help connect the audience to the content.
  • What is the length of the text?

Typography as Voice

  • To deal with type is much the same as to control one’s voice:
  1. Selecting typefaces as voice quality
  1. Having a relationship with type in shape, size, volume as voice tone.
  1. Setting layouts of type as voices in space and time.

  • Typographic design is visible as well as audible. If you have a gret scenario, it is time to cast good actors.

Quote from: Hoon Kim, “Typography as Voice”, Computer Arts 167 (2009)

Tips for Pairing Typefaces

Give each typeface a job

  • When introducing different typefaces, use contrasting type to establish hierarchy. For example, above I’m using Lars Medium Extended – a medium, extended sans-serif as the headline and Portrait text, a serif typeface, for the body. 
  • Do not pair similar typefaces

Limit Yourself to only a couple typefaces (unless you have a really good reason)

  • No more than 3 for most sizes.