When communicating through the written word, books and other written objects were created and copied by hand. A broad-tipped nib pen was used to “paint” ink onto paper with each stroke constructing a letter. Each stroke would move up, down, diagonally, or in curves.
The stroke of the type has transition points which can be thin or thick. This is the contrast within the type. The contrast itself is either high contrast, as in the Bembo and Baskerville type or low contrast, as in the Softly Serif Font. High contrast has multiple transitions which provide easy reading for viewers. Low contrast has very little transition.
Stress is the angle of the occurrence of the transition of the stroke as it goes from thick to thin and vise-versa. The stroke can have a vertical, diagonal, slight diagonal, or no stress.
Weight (Regular, Boldface, Light)
The weight of typeface is the width of the stroke and visual appearance. Boldface is wider and heavier in appearance than regular typeface. Light typeface is thinner in appearance and visually appears lighter. Regular weight typeface is the middle ground between boldface and light.
Posture (Roman, Oblique, Italic)
Posture is the positioning of the typeface. Roman is an upright typeface. Oblique is a slanted typeface that is based on roman positioned type. Italic is also a slanted typeface-but it’s slant is equivalent to cursive handwriting.
Proportions and Letterform Parts
The basic characteristics of type and where the type “lands” on a line helps a designer determine the style of type that would be used for a project. The “landing point” is called the baseline and the bottom edge of each type would be placed here. The top of an uppercase letter is lined up at the capline. The top of the lowercase letter would line up at the meanline. The size of the typeface itself is the x-height. Counter is the enclosed parts of the type and would be viewed in “o” and “q”. Descender is the part of the type that descends past the baseline as in the lowercase “j” or “p”. Monospaced is type that is spaced evenly and sits close to the next letter. Monospace is rarely used because it is difficult to read except in coding.
Serif and Sans-Serif
Serifs are small decorative marks that are added to the end of a main character stroke. Sans-Serif does not have the extra stroke. The issue of readability in print and electronic display has created dilemmas in design as the serif does not work well in legibility as the type becomes smaller on electronic displays. Serif is aesthetically pleasing in print media.
Decorative typefaces are usually robust types that are used as a decorative element for a design rather than for reading, adding mood, emotion, or attitude. Having more of a “personality” then regular typesfaces, decorative type is used sparingly as they can draw attention from the main element of a design.
Script fonts emulate cursive handwriting and calligraphy and are used by printers for certificates of achievement and invitations.
Symbol Typefaces and Special Characters
Symbol typefaces and special characters are types and fonts that are needed occasionally for special designs. Accented letters, copyright marks, and currency symbols are some of the characters that can be used with some of the font families. Special Characters such as Wingding, Zapf Dingbats are ornamental characters that can be used within a design but they do not blend well with the traditional fonts.