Know Your Type(ogrophy)
Put simply, typography is the way the text is arranged in relation to the visual elements in digital and print media. When done correctly, it can effectively communicate messages, engage people’s emotions, and solidify a brand’s identity. This is because people are influenced by typography, both consciously and subconsciously.
An example of this is a 2012 New York Times study by Errol Morris. In this study, readers were presented with a passage from The Beginning of Infinity by David Deutsch, which was followed by two yes or no questions: do you agree with Deutsch’s claim, and how confident are you in your conclusion? Each of the 45,000 participants read the passage in one of six randomly generated typefaces: Baskerville, Computer Modern, Georgia, Helvetica, Comic Sans, and Trebuchet.
The results of this study showed that Baskerville inspired the highest rate of agreement, whereas Comic Sans showed the highest rate of disagreement, with Helvetica right behind. This shows important it is to choose the correct typeface. You wouldn’t use Comic Sans to convey a serious message, whereas Baskerville is seen as more formal. You wouldn’t use Blackletter for paragraph text, because it’s hard to read and should be used mainly for decorative purposes.
How do you determine the effect a font will have? Aside from trying out all of the different fonts in your design program until they all start to look the same, YayText.com is a tool that can be used to convert normal text into over 60 different styles of text using Unicode. It is a good way to preview text types to determine readability and emotional effect, without getting too overwhelmed by your options.
In the end, typography is just one of the many elements to creating an effective message, but it is an important component that can take your content from being interesting to truly engaging.