Typography

How do I train my sense about choosing the right font? I’ve learned the basic principles, but I still always choose the wrong font, even realized after uploading my finished design

If you don’t know how to choose correctly, how do you know you “always” choose wrongly?

  1. Study the masters.

  2. Experience.

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  1. Fonts are very specific to the subject matter. A clean, modern look will usually require a thin sans serif typeface. An engineering company will often use a square-ish typeface.

  2. Look at other designs with the same subject matter and try something similar

  3. Use different weights and sizes, or a different typefaces for emphasis, but never more than 2 different typefaces

  4. Don’t be afraid to break rule 1

I’m taking a typography class right now. What we started with was learning the difference between 3 serif font classifications.

Old Style
Transitional
Modern

If you start by doing your research on these classifications, it will be a starting point to helping you to identify fonts, and use them appropriately.

Long ago in my design program, for the first semester, we were only allowed to use Helvetica, Palatino, Baskerville, Bookman and Avant Garde. This forced us to learn the personality of each of these typefaces. The next semester, we were allowed to use five more. We also traced endless letters from magazines on tracing paper for weeks.

One of the huge mistakes new designers make is trying to be too clever and innovative with their choice of type. Instead of choosing type that fits the design, they make the mistake of trying to rely on type to provide the design’s personality. These first-year university design limitations were designed specifically to prevent us from everyone’s natural impulse to start decorating up the layout with unusual typefaces.

Most experienced designers stick to a small handful of workhorse typefaces that they know will do the job. I still probably have five or six typefaces that I use on 95-plus percent of the work I do. It’s not that I’m averse to using other faces when they’re needed and they work — it’s just that I don’t go looking for them when my go-to typefaces will get the job done.

Yes, exactly.

That typeface you found . . . that’s just so cool, so novel, so quirky, and so perfectly captures the hip and playful mood you’re going for . . . is almost never a good choice.

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I like Massimo Vignelli’s advice, he said something about sticking to roughly 12 fonts at all times, and not get caught up in the billions of font choices that the internet has created.

Keep things simple, and you’ll always know you (at least) aren’t choosing something bad. Go with fonts that have always worked, and then as you get more used to them, you can swap out what fonts you use based on what you think is lacking in the fonts you’ve been using.

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Here’s the trailer for a great documentary on the Vignellis that came out a few years ago. I’m not sure what platform it’s on, but it’s worth seeking out.

Massimo Vignelli had some strong opinions when it came to typography. Here’s a quote from his short, downloadable book, Vignelli Canon:

"The advent of the computer generated the phenomena called desktop publishing. This enabled anyone who could type the freedom of using any available typeface and do any kind of distortion. It was a disaster of mega proportions. A cultural pollution of incomparable dimension. As I said at the time, ‘If all people doing desktop publishing were doctors, we would all be dead!’ Typefaces experienced an incredible explosion. The computer allowed anybody to design new typefaces and that became one of the biggest visual pollution of all times.

"In order to draw attention to that issue, I made an exhibition showing work that we had done over many years by using only four typefaces: Garamond, Bodoni, Century Expanded, and Helvetica. The aim of the exhibition was to show that a large variety of printed matter could be done with an economy of type with great results.In other words, is not the type but what you do with it that counts. The accent was on structure rather than type.

"I still believe that most typefaces are designed for commercial reasons, just to make money or for identity purposes. In reality the number of good typefaces is rather limited and most of the new ones are elaborations on pre-existing faces. Personally, I can get along well with a half dozen, to which I can add another half a dozen, but probably no more.

“Besides those already mentioned, I can add Optima, Futura, Univers (the most advanced design of the century since it comes in 59 variations of the same face), Caslon, Baskerville, and a few other modern cuts. As you can see, my list is pretty basic but the great advantage is that it can assure better results.”

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How long will it take to be able to adapt to get a sense of some typeface, I will try the earliest way to use the 5 fonts first to train my sense that is still not consistent

Well, those typeface were especially popular back in the 1970s and 1980s. You might want to update the list with what’s popular today, but the point is to confine yourself to using just a handful of well-made, well-designed, conservative and often-used typefaces.

Man I love that guy.

Ok I will try from there and try to expand my knowledge to the type of typeface and fonts that are appropriate, should I also temporarily not participate in the contest or while following it while studying ?, In the contest I can get references from the more experienced

The new season of Netflix’s Abstract has an episode on Jonathan Hoefler. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’d bet it’s worth watching.

Great, I’ll be looking forward to watching that.

Debbie Millman’s podcast sometimes features interviews with type designers, including one with Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jone (before their split). https://www.designmattersmedia.com/browse-by/discipline/TYPE

She also did a very interesting interview with Massimo Vignelli at https://www.designmattersmedia.com/podcasts/Massimo-Vignelli

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Here’s an inspirational video on Donald Young that’s worth watching.

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