Typography is one of those big $.50 words in graphic design. It deals with all aspects of how designers deal with type and text. For the purposes of this post and to simplify it, we'll narrowly focus on the choice of fonts and how you use those fonts and what message that conveys to your audience.
Typography should perform these functions:Basically, your font selection, whether you own up to it or not, sends a message about you and your topic before a reader even deciphers your words (see Lifehacker, Smashing Magazine, & I Love Typography). Let's look at three ways to improve the use of typefaces (fonts) in your little piece of Edudom.
- Invite the reader/audience
- Reveal tone/meaning
- Clarify the structure/order of the content
- Link the writing with other elements
Trick 1: Avoid Campy and / or Unprofessional Type
The biggest problem we have as educators is our tendency to try to be too creative, clever, unique or whatever you want to call it. Many of us came up on the typewriter, and when Jobs and Woz introduced a computer with Font selection, we went nuts and have been doing so ever since.
As I said earlier, your choice of font sends a message about you and your topic so you should consider this when choosing a typeface. You might love Papyrus, for example, but does it send the message that you're looking to convey?
Below, is a quote from an article I read on BBC News, and it really simplifies and clarifies this point.
This is an apt simile because, as professionals, we understand that one needs to dress for the occasion. The denim jumper on the right, for example, in all its campy, puffy-painted glory is perfectly suited to the Kindergarten or even Third Grade teacher, but a Middle or High school teacher would not wear this and expect to be taken seriously by her students. In the same way, Comic Sans, while beautifully suited to a First Grade classroom is insulting and demeaning to your Middle and High School students and the content area you're trying to have them take seriously.
Selecting a font is like getting dressed, Ms Strawson says. Just as one chooses an outfit according to the occasion, one decides on a font according to the kind of message you are seeking to convey (BBC News).
Selecting a Font is like getting dressed
I have a friend and colleague that teaches with me, who is a bit of a Fashionista. She meticulously chooses every aspect of her look daily, from clothing to jewelry (some of which she makes herself) She would not ever wear the fore-mentioned denim jumper with puffy paint, yet she announces loudly every time she sees me that she still uses Comic Sans on everything.
Of Pots and Kettles: By the way, I have many colleagues who complain that when they take their students to the lab to complete typed work, they return with pieces produced in Chiller or Jokerman. They wonder why the students have no concept of professionalism even though they mass produce hand outs in Comic Sans.
The best way to avoid Campy Cheese is subtlety. "The font-design should never be more noticeable than the text it spells out. On the flip-side, a font that turns heads, an exciting, fancy font with lots of flourishes, a glamorous font that begs for attention is always a bad font" (Shane Melaugh).
If you must use a ready-made display face with a lot of character, think about what the font is saying. to your audience.
Trick 2: Develop a consistent look / brandBelieve it or not, as a teacher, you develop a brand as much as any company selling a product or service. Like typography, branding is a huge topic. For now, here's an example of Skype's Corporate brand book. Notice the role of font consistency in representing the brand.
Believe it or not, your school district likely has a brand guide. You are actually expected to abide by this any time you're using your school logo or mascot on a publication. Ask your public relations office for a copy of it.
The typefaces you choose to use on Posters, handouts, and other classroom consumables & visuals should, if nothing else, be consistent. Using a consistent typeface [s] (and color scheme)is a visual trick that allows you to:
- Create a mood / feeling that students can associate with your class.
- Allow students to mentally prepare for your subject through the visual cues of your brand through font choice alone.
- Add a touch of professionalism to your room that students will pick up on.
Trick 3: The secret of Pairing Type
|Office Built in Font Pairs|
I will not mess with the default font pairings found in MS Office's built in Themes, so help me God.Now, as for the rest of us who aren't using Office and / or refuse to make that pledge. Here are some resources that may help you in your use & pairing of typefaces.
- Read this Article - Become a Master Designer: Part 1: Limit your Fonts
- Type Connection A game about font pairing...
- Pair Sans-serifs with Serifs
- Pair basic Sans-serifs (body) with
- Slab Serif headings
- Strongly stylistic Display Face headings.
- Pair Serif body copy with Cursive or Handwriting headings.
Getting good FontsIf you're allowed to add fonts to your system, and you're looking for some decent (professional) typefaces that have multiple weights and variants, here are some suggestions. These are free, and available in Google Docs.
Google Web Fonts. The bottom line is, there are a lot of great alternatives out there to Comic Sans and Papyrus.
- Comic Sans Criminal
- Karen Kavett on Comic Sans
- Karen Kavett on Papyrus
- It’s All About the Wordplay: 6 Typeface dos and don’ts
- Design for Non-Designers: Fonts
- Practical Typography - Type for non-designers
- Typography Tips for Non-Designers
- A Non-Designer’s Guide to Typefaces and Layout