Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Typography comes from the Greek words meaning “to form” and “to write”. That is, it is the form of writing as it appears on the page or on the computer screen.


Our writing may be extremely interesting, but if we don’t give it the correct physical “appearance”, because we have used an inappropriate typeface or font, the reader may find it hard to read the text and thus not understand what we have written. Even worse, the reader may not bother to finish the article because reading it is proving too arduous!


Basically, we need to use a font that makes our writing appear clear and easy to read. For example, the Bus Script MT italic may not be easy to decipher and this, in turn, makes the piece of writing difficult to understand. We should avoid these fonts in school essays, business documents and marketing advertisements where the clarity of our message is imperative.


Typefaces (a collective term for fonts and type faces) usually fall into two categories: sans-serif and serif. Serifs are fonts with a tiny line tailing the edges of the lettering, like Times New Roman, which has been used in this blog. Such fonts influence the way the eye moves along a line when we are reading. Serifs are considered the most readable fonts and so are frequently used in newspapers and magazines.


Such features as type size, spacing between letters and words, column width, and justification where there are no jagged edges to the right of the page, also play a key role in how readable a passage of text is – or isn’t.


Of course, for posters and other specialised texts “fancy” fonts can be used. But for official writing it is best to keep it simple, and use a Serif font.


As Cyrus Highsmith, a typeface designer once said, “Typography is the detail and the presentation of a story. It represents the voice of an atmosphere, or historical setting.”

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