Considering Type

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Considering Type :

You don't need to know the fine point of working with type that would concern a book or magazine designer or a graphic artist. For your purpose, you need to consider only three elements of type :

Font, style and size

All word processing programs give you options with all three.

Fonts are typefaces -Times, Helvetica, Garamond, and so on.

Styles: are such variants as italic, boldface, outline, shadow, CAPS, SMALL CAPS or L E T T E R S P A C I N G.

Sizes are measured in points 8 point, 14 point, on up.

Fonts :

If you're using a sophisticated word processing program, such as Micro¬soft Word or WordPerfect, you have a wonderful variety of fonts available to you, ranging from routine, serviceable fonts to dramatic display fonts and graceful or playful decorative fonts. (In Word, for example, just click on the Format button on the toolbar and the first option is a drop-down box with Font as the first item. Click on that and you'll see the fonts you have available.) You can also download often free, inexpensive supple¬mental font packages that will provide you with dozens more.

There are four categories of fonts : serif, sans serif, decorative and symbol.

Serif Fonts : These are the fonts that have little feet (serifs) attached to the ends of letters. Some common ones are Times, Courier, Palatino, New Century Schoolbook and Bookman. These fonts work well for extended passages of print because the serifs help move the reader's eye along from one word to the next. They have a traditional look and are comfortable to read because people are used to seeing them in newspapers and magazines. .

Sans Serif Fonts : These are barer, more modern-looking fonts and are more commonly used on Web pages. Some of the more popular ones are Helvetica, Futuro, Univers, and Chicago. Sans serif fonts work well for display type-headlines, headings, titles and such, because they have an assertive, no-nonsense quality. They don't work as well for long blocks of print because they're not quite as easy to read as serif fonts (except on the Web, where they're eas¬ier to read than serif fonts).

Decorative Fonts : These come in a dazzling variety, ranging from ultra-old-fashioned to jazzy and brash. Just a few examples: Regency, Gill Sans, Avant Garde and Belwe Medium .

These - and there are many, many more - are special effect fonts. They are fun to play with, but should be used sparingly. They’re attention getters and often don't combine well with their less flashy fellow fonts. Their appropriate¬ness really depends on two key factors. First, using too many fonts in any document is a mistake, but the number you can use, say, in a college or professional report is certainly different from the number you can use in invitations to a child's birthday party. Second, some fonts combine well visually with other fonts and some fonts don't.

Symbol Fonts : Sometimes called dingbats, these fonts provide you with a broad range of icons, ornamental signs, and geometric sym¬bols - for example, ©, TM, ~, %, and ~\\. These fonts include an assortment of arrows, geometric figures and mathematical symbols. You will also find items you can use for bor¬ders, bullets, decorations, identifying pictures or separating chunks of text. Look under Zapf Dingbats, Monotype Sorts or Wingdings in your word processor's fonts menu. (You can also find symbols in other places on your word processor. For example, in Word you can click on Insert, and then on Symbol in the drop-down box and you will see many more symbols to choose among.)

Choosing Fonts :

Fonts have distinctive personalities and those personalities will help you set the tone of your document. When you're thinking which fonts to se¬lect, consider what tone you want to convey and then choose accordingly. For most academic projects, your basic font for body text needs to be a serif font from the "workhorse" category (Times or Courier, for example) and your headings and figure captions need to be a workhorse sans serif (such as Arial). Below are few fonts for your attention.

A Sampler of Type Fonts :

Workhorse : Usually serif fonts, the workhorses, do most of the routine work in documents and hold up well for the long pull. They're unobtrusive and easy to read. For routine academic projects, these should be your choices.

Authority : These display fonts command attention and work well in head¬lines and on announcements. You might use these on a title page for a re¬port, as well.

Show-off : These are the cutups that make a point of being different. They're fun, but a little goes a long way. They can be used for light¬hearted posters and brochures - but sparingly.

Elegant : Lighter, more delicate fonts will give a touch of class. They work well for invitations and courtesy notes (for example, thank you cards).

Script : Script fonts are graceful, flowing fonts, useful for quotations, invi¬tations or programs. If you put very much text into such a font, it be¬comes hard to read.

A Sampler of Type Fonts

Note that type sizes aren't uniform among fonts. For example, 10 - point type in Courier, Helvetica and Bookman is quite readable, but 10 - point type in Futuro looks tiny. You'll need to adjust type sizes as you see your fonts appear on the page or the screen.

Combining Fonts :

Here is a piece of work of a student in just one font.

Once the possibility of a cochlear implant begins to be considered, various kinds of audiological tests can be used to determine more about the level and kind of hearing loss. Various kinds of hearing aids and other such devices can be temporarily fitted to test whether these devices might be beneficial. If these tests suggest that the person might indeed be a candidate for a cochlear implant, additional medical tests are then performed. For example, X-rays are taken to see if the cochlea can take an implant. Another very specific procedure, called a promontory test, may also be used to determine whether electrical stimulation of the auditory nerve (such as might be produced by an implant) will in fact result in sound.

By today's standards, this use of just on font looks very flat. But Typography experts recommend that you use only two fonts or at most three, in any document. Any more than that can look jumbled and confusing. In most student writing projects, you might see a traditional serif font for the body of the report or article and then a sans serif font for the display type-headlines or headings and subheadings.

Here is an example (in this case, a straightforward news announcement) with a headline in the sans serif font Arial and the body in the worker-bee serif font Times New Roman:

Emotional Intelligence Author to Speak

On Tuesday, December 5, at 7:30 p.m., Daniel Goleman author of the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence, will speak at City Auditorium. Dr. Goleman, who is a social science writer for the New York Times, will outline the principles of his book and explain why parents should be more concerned about helping their children develop emotional intelligence than about trying to get them enrolled in prestigious colleges.

Here is a less formal combination of fonts for an announcement about an upcoming event. It combines Lucida Sans for the headline with Bookman Old Style for the text.

Edgar Winner to Talk about Writing Mysteries

On Sunday, May 17, at 2:00 p.m., Mary Willis Walker will read from her novel of suspense Under the Beetle's Cellar in the third-floor atrium of Book People. Ms. Walker, who won the coveted Edgar award for her 1994 mystery The Red Scream, will also talk about her experience of working with other writers in critique groups, a practice she considers essential to her own writing process.

The following example shows what happens when there are too many fonts. Each line clashes with the one above it and the one below. The effect is overkill.

On April 9 You’ll have the privilege of hearing

Ronald E. Dickson


Harvard University

Author of the autobiography

It Isn’t Necessarily So

The title of Dr. Dickson's talk will be

Trying to tell the Truth – it is not easy

Basset Hall


7.30 P.M.

There are no actual rules about using specific fonts or for combining fonts - just guidelines. And there is plenty of literature - but no consensus - about how the effects of various fonts may change as one moves from print documents to Web documents. Once they get past the rule of thumb - stick with two or three basic fonts for the entire document - different experts go in different directions. For some good examples to follow, look over the front page of a major newspaper such as the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times or the introductory pages of a news magazine such as Time or Newsweek, either in print or on the Web. Model your own documents initially on others you see that are successful, but then play around and experiment a little bit with yours, also. You have a wealth of possibilities open to you that no one would have dreamed of a few years ago. Get creative when you have the opportunity.

Type Styles :

The basic type style choices are between roman and italic and between boldface and lightface. Lightface roman type is the most simple, straight forward and unembellished. It is the one most people call normal¬ the standard type style from which boldface and italics are the variations.

Boldface type stands out. Use it in headlines, headings or subheadings or other displayed elements. For brochures, newsletters or posters you can boldface borders or dividing lines. But keep these cautions in mind:

I) Using too much boldface, like using too many exclamation points, reduces its impact.

II) Large amounts of Boldface make a document look dark. Eventually too much boldface just cancels itself out.

III) For Web pages, if you boldface words for emphasis, readers might think those words are hypertext links (especially if the bold is another color, such as blue) and try to click on them and become frustrated when it turns out they are not links.

Italic type is conventional for several uses - the titles of books, plays, magazines and papers and for foreign words and phrases. You can also use it sparingly to emphasize selected words or phrases - for example: "Julio's manners are fine. It's his intentions I question." On the Web, bold italic is used for emphasis more often than alone, because on the Web italic by itself can be hard to read.

Underlining can also be used to mark words for special use or (as in MLA style) to mark titles. But underlining entire lines (much less paragraphs) should be avoided because it makes a passage of print hard to read. On the Web, underlining, like boldface, can be mistaken for hypertext links. As a rule, confine underlining to papers (or articles for publication) that must conform strictly to a style manual that requires it.

Type Size :

Decisions about type size need to be based on both the purpose of your project and any readability concerns there might be (such as whether it's a Web project, a 2-by-3-inch calling card or an academic report). And of course, the type sizes can vary within documents - headings may be bigger than body text. Captions and source notes may be smaller.

For academic papers and any manuscripts you may be submitting to an editor, use either 10- or 12-point type in a readable font. For notes or a script you need to read in front of an audience, 14-point type works well. For anything that needs to be read on a poster, 24- or 36-point type works best.

In other settings, type size in general correlates with purpose. Headings and subheadings in reports and academic papers should be only slightly larger than the print in the body of the paper -perhaps two points larger. On the Web, viewers can make the size of type pretty much whatever they want, but the sizes of different kinds of type stay in the same proportional relationship to one another-what you make big stays big.

Headlines require special attention, especially in such documents as announcements, newsletters and brochures. A headline needs to catch readers' attention. Make your headlines three to four times as large as the type in the body of the article. Think of headlines as sentences to be read quickly. Use no more than three lines - one or two would be better.

Font Color :

Different colors of type may be used to highlight particular words or phrases in some settings. In general, however, a very little variation goes a long way. Certainly there are exceptions - birthday invitations for seven-year-olds come to mind or some commercial brochures, perhaps but for most academic publications, you're well advised to stick to black type on white paper. Some designers will use one other color, such as blue or green for words that need to be emphasized or for headings or red for cautions and warnings, but that is about as far as you want to go in a college paper.

The use of color in visuals - in charts, graphs, diagrams or other kinds of illustrations - is common in today's professional world and is rapidly becoming more common on college campuses (as more and more students have access to color printers). A good general guideline is to consider whether the color is being added to enhance the meaning somehow or just for decoration. Color just for decoration should be avoided. But color can be used to highlight special elements of a graphic (one line among several on a line graph, for example) or to enhance meaning by symbolizing a concept (such as showing profits in green and losses in red). Once again, however, the caution needs to be sounded that a little color goes a long way: the fewer colors you use and the more consistently you use them, the easier it may be for readers to take in your meaning.

Choosing color for Web pages can be difficult, because different Web browsers have different color settings, so that there's never any guarantee that the color you choose will be the color your users see. For corporate or professional pages, use of color should be restrained - the page still needs to look professional. Hot pink type on a yellow background will cause Web viewers to click on their browser's Back button as fast as they can. For text on the Web, a little color again goes a long way. If you look at some of the most heavily trafficked pages on the Web, such as the Microsoft, Yahoo! or Coogle home pages, you'll see that other than putting the basic text in blue rather than black, they employ very little other color - most often one other color (such as green) is used to emphasize one word or set of words (often links) and that's it. On the other hand, for visuals, graphics, drawings, photos and so on, color is one of the Web's strongest features.

To continue the section on Considering Design,

1. A Few Uses of Document Designs

2. Planning A Design

4. Considering Layout

5. Designing For The Website

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