Typography is quite the intimidating universe to get into, but even if you’re not a designer it’s worth understanding even just a fraction of its principles. Your end game, after all, is to create a genuine connection with your audience, and at the heart of your campaign, be it a website, banner, or book, is your message. One that has to be presented in the clearest, most effective way possible.
I first recommend dipping your toes into these resources:
- The Elements of Typographic Style Applied to the Web
- A Short Course On How To Improve Your Website’s Typography
- 10 Incredible Sites to Improve Your Typography Skills
- Just My Type
Depending on your interest and goals you probably won’t need to devour every word and concept in there but it’s great to be exposed to possibilities and limitations of the medium. Ideally it would be great for you to understand why blank space (whitespace) is a good thing, when large or small type is appropriate, or why you shouldn’t use the likes of Comic Sans and Papyrus.
But it’s not so easy figuring those things out by simply absorbing material, so some exercises are also worth checking out. Here are some games, both web-based and iOS-based, that will test your typographic sensibilities:
Shoot the Serif
One of the first lessons you’ll learn in typography is figuring out the difference between serif and sans-serif fonts, and more importantly, what qualities each one have. Shoot the Serif, as the name implies, is a shooting game that challenges you to weed out as many serif fonts as possible in a given time.
Even with advanced design tools and typefaces, kerning—the proper spacing between glyphs—should not be overlooked. Kern Type lets you arrange letters to achieve their optimum spacing and appearance. See which typefaces are in use and improve your spatial recognition in this iPad-friendly web app.
From the same folks behind Kern Type, Shape Type lets you edit various letterforms until you arrive at their correct shape. This is pretty advanced stuff for type newbies, but again it’s a great exercise in concepts such as proportion and give you a better sense of how fonts are designed.
Type Connection helps you learn how to pair typefaces in a “dating game” fashion, giving each font family a persona based on the look and feel they exude. Pick a matching strategy, a second font, and see if their “date” prove successful. At the end you’ll get an explanation why or why not the pair works.