Today’s topic is typography — the study and use of typefaces, or fonts.
Typography is a complex subject that some people spend their whole lives studying, but learning the basics shouldn’t be daunting. Understanding how to use (and even make your own!) type can be a powerful tool for framing your brand's identity.
Luckily, there are plenty of online resources for small business owners and designers interested in refining their visual brand.
Learning the Basics
Choosing and Using Type
Just like a garment is designed, so is a typeface. It can take years to create a beautiful, functional typeface, and the people that make them should be paid for their work. There are plenty of free font sites out there for people who've chosen to make their work free, but there's something to be said for investing in a typeface that's a perfect fit for your brand. So, free or not — choose wisely!
Google Fonts — All free, all the time, for any application (print or web)
Font Squirrel — Listing of 100% free for commercial use fonts
Hoefler & Frere-Jones — robust font families for print and web (the new classics)
House Industries — quirky, bold and radical type
FontFont — "The world's largest library of contemporary typefaces"
Inspirational Type Online
Books on Type
There are so many excellent books for on typography, but here are a few of my favorites.
The Beginners Manual
Thinking with Type, by Ellen Lupton (2007)
The author of this one is a lot of fun, and most importantly, she knows how to explain the subject without making it intimidating. Lupton lays out the rules of type in a clear, visual format that is great for newbies.
The Elements of Typographic Style, by Robert Bringhurst (1992)
This was introduced as a sort of "typographic bible" to most design students, at least over the past decade. It was written in '92, so there are newer books on the subject, but this one wins for quality and thoroughness.
I Wonder, by Marian Bantjes (2010)
Marian Bantjes is a Canadian graphic artist best known for her mastery of decorative typography. This book may not explicitly teach you much, but it's a beautiful book full of inspiration for your next type-based project.
Online Typography Courses
If you're looking to learn from an actual (virtual) person, check out an online forum like Skillshare. Skillshare offers top-notch instruction from professionals on the cheap. Classes are self-paced, allowing you to learn on your own schedule.
The Art of Typography: Communicate Effectively Through the Power of Type ($20)
Learn the basics of type — from typographic history to creating your own typefaces. Great for beginners!
Logo Design: Creating Custom Typography for Your Brand ($19)
Design your own logotype with a vintage feel.
The First Steps of Hand-Lettering: Concept to Sketch (Lettering I) ($20)
Turn your handwriting into art! Learn to hand-letter.
Layouts for Lettering: Hierarchy, Composition, and Type Systems ($19)
If you're already comfortable with drawing and hand-lettering, this class will teach you how to apply those skills to a layout.
Learn InDesign: Layouts, Type and Images ($19)
If you're not already familiar with Adobe InDesign, it's a great tool for working with typography — especially for type-heavy layouts like catalogs or brand lookbooks.