3 spring cleaning tricks to keep your typography fresh

workerbee

The time for spring cleaning has arrived and for those with cluttered font library and messy typographic techniques, it is a perfect opportunity to clean up. This article takes on the task in 3 steps: cleaning out the font library, getting more from less fonts and polishing up typographic technique.

1. Clean up your font library

Participating in design contests requires one to be ready to attack any style at a given moment. For that reason it is likely that many designers have gone through the ocean of free fonts available on the internet and accumulated a massive and cluttered font library. Especially given that it is all too easy to click the download button thinking a quirky font will come in use at some point. Unfortunately most of these fonts collect dust and make it harder to dig for the fonts that matter, because the truth is good fonts pull a lot more weight than bad (usually free) ones.

One simple technique for cleaning out the font library is for a designer to make a short list of typographic styles that they commonly work within, then to list 5-10 fonts in that style that can be real work horses. Once these fonts have been selected, the rest can be instantly deleted without hesitation or regret!

fonts

Top to bottom: Bulmer, Bell, Perpetua

Also it is well worth thinking about replacing a dozen free fonts with even a single quality monotype face: They were hand carved by typographic masters and are time tested. Above is an example of the core of my serif font collection. Notice the variety in character expression. With a little creativity these three monotype fonts can satisfy virtually any serif needs!

2. Get more from less fonts

A common approach that a beginner might use in a design project is to type the word of focus, then scroll through the font library until a solution is settled upon. Quite frankly this technique exists on the mere surface of graphic design. Any passionate designer can transform even a single font through many atmospheres and expressions. Below are three examples to provide introduction and inspiration to that realm of design.

Overlap

Negative space – Bulmer (left), Helvetica (right)

stroke

Inset white stroke on Baskerville (left), outset black stroke on Futura (right)

Layering

Offset layering: Baskerville (left), Futura (right)

3. Cleaning up the type

The basic parameters of typography cannot be stressed enough, especially given that many designers seemingly still think that kerning is the space between any length of typographic characters; it’s not! In the past that was true but times have changed.

Tracking

Tracking: This is what designers of the past would call kerning. It refers to the spacing of letters for any length of characters.

Kerning: This is the space between two characters. It can be thought of as existing within the umbrella of tracking.

These two parameters can be considered to be the most important in logo design and therefore should be fully understood and given heavy attention in the design process! Taking the time to “massage” the typographic characters into a comfortable spacing is a mark of a skilled designer.

Conclusion

Clean typography is a refreshing way to welcome spring. Utilizing some of the tips above is great way to start!

Have any spring cleaning ideas to add? Comment below!

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