To be able to use fonts appropriately, so that they complement the design rather than clash with it, designers need to master some of the skills of the typographer.

Font Basics

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As a digital designer, fonts are a basic tool of your trade. The decisions that you make about which fonts or typefaces to use, and how to use them, can have a profound effect on the appearance and readability of your documents. 
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Since the advent of page-layout applications and the ready availability of a huge array of fonts, it often seems that many of the finer skills of the typographer have fallen by the wayside. 
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The choice of font tells your readers a lot about a publication before they even begin reading it. The mark of the true designer is knowing how to use – and, equally important, how not to use – fonts to give your documents the maximum possible impact.
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<h2>What is a font?</h2>
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The particular design of a set of characters – including all the letters of the alphabet, Arabic numerals, punctuation marks, and other symbols, such as accented characters – makes up a font or typeface. It’s worth remembering that in today’s world of page-layout applications, computer fonts are software. 
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This will help you to understand the different formats that fonts can take, the ways they can be bought and used, and how to deal with the problems and cross-platform issues that may arise when using them. 
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<h2>How fonts work</h2>
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Computers encode each character in a font in the form of a number, turning the alphabet into a set of numbers that all applications can then interpret. On screen, however, what you see are graphic shapes of the members of the character set, which are reproduced by the particular font software you have chosen. 
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Fonts are distinguished by various graphical aspects that each font’s set of characters shares. For example, all the lowercase letters of the alphabet in a particular font share a common ‘x-height’ (see diagram below). Further variation comes from the different styles and weights that may be produced for each font ‘family’, such as italic and bold.
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<h2>Font types and qualities</h2>
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There are three main categories of font: serif, sans serif, and decorative. 
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<h2>Serif fonts</h2>
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These fonts are distinguished by the short counterstrokes, or serifs, on the ends of their letters. Very generally, serif fonts add authority and classicism, while sans serif fonts convey modernity and immediacy. Serif fonts are considered easier to read for extended periods, so they tend to be used for the body text of books and newspapers. 
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<h2>Sans serif fonts</h2>
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These give a clean visual image and are especially good for headlines and boxed text, although their uniformity tends to make them less legible in long passages of text. Having said this, these qualities are not always so clear-cut. For example, the large x-height of Helvetica – a sans serif font – makes it easily readable when used for body text. 
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<h2>Decorative fonts</h2>
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As the name implies, these fonts should be reserved for decoration and do not make for easily read blocks of text.
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<h2>Corporate environments</h2>
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Designing documents for corporate use brings its own set of complicating factors, demanding fonts that combine functionality with the appropriate aesthetic qualities to reinforce the company image or brand. <BR>
<ul><li>If you are creating documents for other people to use, you will need to consider compatibility. Are they using PCs or Macs? What software do they use? Which fonts do they have pre-installed?</li>
<li>Establish a clear set of rules for the use of corporate fonts in different situations and make sure that these rules are agreed with other departments, such as marketing and editorial.</li></ul>
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Further variation comes from the different styles and weights that may be produced for each font ‘family’: plain (often called ‘Roman’ or ‘normal’), italic, semibold, bold, extra bold, condensed, thin, light, and so on. The differences between fonts, and among styles and weights, can be marked, or they may be very subtle.

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