Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Learning InDesign

Recently I was asked this question; What courses and certifications can I do to master InDesign?

Many training options exist. Adobe has published the InDesign Classroom in a Book series for InDesign, and other published titles to learn from along with Adobe’s online tutorials, TV, magazine and a online forum. Many other books and online video options are available also; Online Courses is one example. On the web you can find both paid and free tutorials that exist across spectrum of value and quality.

College classes with computer labs and instructors might be another option for consideration. Private versions exist also. You might look into Adobe certified trainers, Luminous Works Training and Consulting is great example.

Your local county library may have resources also, ask the librarian. Mine has the Adobe InDesign application on it’s computers, and through the library system you can access the courses. Your local library option is great if you are on a budget and do not want to spend the funds on a subscription, an at home high speed internet connection, the Adobe InDesign CC subscription fee, or purchasing a modern computer that can handle Adobe InDesign application.

The best teacher is using InDesign on real client projects. Creating project files that contain good typography so that all the content copy is both legible and readable when viewed and use a layout design that solved the client’s visual communication problem. Then getting those InDesign files commercially printed, or as part of a web site or email blast, newsletter, ePub, or a interactive PDF and being served to public via server (Yes, InDesign can be and plays a part of presentation and web work). It has to go beyond looking good on your screen. It has to work on printing press or as a part of the web so that it loads and display fast on multiple devices.

To get there you need the fundamentals of type and typography. Also learn and use the design principles of graphic design; Proximity, Alignment, Repetition, and Contrast. Along with mentorship, collaboration and years of practical experience, it requires hard work. 

Learning the InDesign application functions and keyboard strokes over moving mouse in a application is important. It is only small part of what you need to learn in order to survive in the creative services business. Earning a certificate, study a CIB course, or online tutorials are first steps of many needed to master InDesign as a tool for developing visual communication with solid typography and the clear communication of idea to a target audience.

Being able to sketch out an idea, and to discuss and interview a client to learn the problem and it’s visual communication needs has more to do with mastering the art, craft, science, and business of design. InDesign and computer are just modern tools used in refining and producing a visual communication piece, a means to a end. Know that tools wear out, change, you learn and adapt, the fundamentals remain.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Why do designers make typography every day?

Why do designers make typography every day?

Recently I was asked this question; Why do designers make typography every day?

Typography is just one of the many things that a graphic designer does. Part of a means to an end.

Many of us began training at the university level and now it is muscle memory, or habit. Typesetting, or composition means time to kern each word, examine each sentence break, and all the paragraph starts and ends. The typeface family selection, the font weight, line length and matching point size and leading all become part of the art, science and judgement in typography.

Typography is the style and appearance of type. All the things that need written language made legible and readable when viewed.

Typography is part of all the stuff around you in civilization; signs, billboards, packages, flyers, posters, ads, books, magazines, newspapers, instructions, products, presentations, web pages and more.

Really good typography is frequently the work of not only graphic designers, but art directors and creative directors. These are teams of people trained in typography and who use graphic design principles and best practices to make good visual communication work. Often these people design with editors and writers in partnership and collaboration to produce all the stuff around you in civilization.

Just 60 years ago many people worked in composition departments as typesetters creating the basis for effective communication. Initially as the computer systems called photo-typesetters, then digital-typesetters replaced previous hot and cold metal type, people traditionally were trained as compositors or typesetters and then advanced into layout artist, graphic artist, graphic design, art director, and creative director positions.

In the 1980’s the desktop publisher spewed forth upon the world and civilization.  The art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable, and appealing when displayed, that’s typography and it has been impacted ever since.

Now, every day people without training or knowledge make publications, products and other visual communications and sometimes they create and foster a low form of typography.

Every day people use word processing programs ignorantly believing they are typesetting and making good typography.

With so much poorly prepared typography it seems every day fewer people exist that know, produce and can explain what quality typography is. With an acceptance of mediocre typography it seems at times decline of written language is inevitable. What is to emerge, with so many people self publishing books, web pages, e-magazines, tweets, e-pubs. New learning and exploring of typography seems one outcome. It is possible amazing typography can happen with better broader written language spread across new media, only time will show us.

So graphic designers make typography every day so that others will learn, understand, embrace, object, react, buy, rebuild, repair, apply, think, listen, laugh, cry, heal, grow. If the typography is done well it is both legible and readable and you do not notice it is there unless you are supposed to.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Where can I get free professional fonts?

Recently I was asked this question; Where can I get free professional fonts?

If you want to use any font professionally then you need to act professionally. Being a creative services professional means you purchase the font license to protect yourself and your client. This includes the situation when you are your own client.

In the creative services profession the cost to purchase the license for a font is part of the project cost that is involved in design of a visual communication piece. In the project beginning you discuss this topic among many others.

If you obtain any font from a “FREE” site and you get a virus of some ilk, the time it takes to repair the damage and remove the virus is going to cost you more than buying the font would have.

A “FREE” font may not include the common fonts weight styles, the full set of fonts glyphs, ligatures and the drawing hints, rendering tables and attention to each character’s rendered detail that come with the licensed version of the font. The “FREE” version has likely changed a character, or a punctuation so that it does not match the legal licensed version that all the legitimate printers, other creative service providers, or clients may use and have licensed. Then in an exchange of files for reproduction, or derivative work made with your “FREE” font, it becomes a problem you created and bad art you are ultimately responsible for.

If you were to create a visual communication piece for a client using a “FREE” font and then were caught doing this, the harm to your professional standing in the clients eyes would be difficult to ever rebuild. You may have also put the client at serious risk.

Today several basic fonts and licenses to use them come with your computer OS. With many graphic design applications that software license provides selected legal fonts licenses also. The fonts and font licenses provided need to be read and understood, but generally they are quite broad use font licenses.

In place today for your convenient use are services and technologies that exist to manage and to locate, test and purchase, organize and safely store fonts.
It is easier to do the right thing.

Since you are asking this question I am going to guess you have a limited knowledge of typography, history of type, type classification and identification, and that typesetting, type use and selection is likely not your area of professional expertise. I would also guess that the acronym EULA is also unfamiliar. It is possible the fonts resources that came with and currently exist on your computer are adequate to your visual communication needs. A lack of typographic experience and knowledge of how to use what you have is part of the problem. Downloading “FREE” fonts is not the solution, as you will just have more fonts you do not understand how to use.

The professional move is understand the copyright license associated with any font you utilize, whether it is a download for 100% “FREE” or even a font that you have purchased. That fonts end user license agreement, or EULA is what you must read to understand your rights to to use the fonts you acquire.
Try reading this article titled Understanding Font Licensing & Usage Rights (Understanding Font Licensing & Usage Rights).

Too lazy to read or spend a decade to learn graphic design, layout and typographic principles for visual communication? 

The smart alternative, hire a Graphic Designer. Like your Accountant, Lawyer, Architect, a Graphic Designer is a professional specialist. Independent Graphic Design professionals such as myself are set up to create visual communication art. We save you time and money creating the many visual communications of business. I eliminate the low end quality and lack of result that is an outcome of doing a visual communication piece yourself.

Monday, May 7, 2018

What font to use…

Recently I was asked this question; What are the fonts to use in a poster of a drama named Downfall?

It is difficult to gain understanding without study and practice. The graphic design and layout of a large format project such as a poster is no exception.

If you’re stuck and have problems in finding “the right” font remember the KISS rule; make your life easier and use a tried and true font. Pick one of these:
Avant Garde
Bell Gothic
Courier Std
Franklin Gothic
Gill Sans
Sabon LT Std
Trade Gothic

You could use these 22 fonts for the next 20 or 30 years and do just fine in solving visual communication issues and creating relevant graphic design art.


If new to poster design start out with using one typeface throughout the poster design.
Pick a typeface that has many font weights, that has good readability and legibility across both display and text sizes (see list above).

What Font to use…

The question itself indicates a project workflow problem; inexperience with design thinking and strategy. The answer to the question you’re asking needs to emerge from client collaboration and the poster project design process itself.

Like any graphic design project asking questions to gain a project understanding during discovery is important to your success. 

A common poster size in the United states for “The One-Sheet” movie poster is 27 inches wide by 40 inches tall. Poster size commonly used in movies and marketing generally starts at 11" x 17", then 18" x 24" as medium size. Large size poster can be 24" x 36" or 27" x 39" These are some of the size choices.

During the discovery part of the graphic design process one aspect is finding out the poster size. If the client is unsure you can make recommendation. Discovery is also asking the client the who, what, where, when, and how about the poster project.
Before a font can be selected and tested you need to ask all the project discovery questions. Knowing poster size is important, it matters, but so does the material you put in to the poster and grasping the poster project context. The font choice is going to happen later in the poster project after discovery, research and planning. It is going to start during strategy development and emerge fully in design development.

You are now ready for design development. You have discussed poster concept with the client and clearly know what the important idea is to communicate. You have obtained and organized all the poster content.You have gone over strategy, know target audience information, the medium the poster represents, event-time, date and so on. Once you know and have the approved copy, a photo or illustration (if image is used), any logo or other art for the poster, you have the poster copy hierarchy organized. Next start sketching different poster layout ideas and typeface choices. Through making rough, then tighter sketches the solutions will come.

Have fun designing your poster.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

What is the widest font

Recently I was asked, What is the widest font available in Word?

Font choice has little to do with Word.

Microsoft Word is at its core a word processing application. It can display your text files using any fonts or typeface family installed on your computer.

The selection of typefaces you see when using Microsoft Word exist as part of your computers operating system. The typefaces that have been loaded or installed onto your computer. Some of the typeface choices you see came with the operating system, others as part of Microsoft Office or other installed applications. You may have purchased a single font or a whole typeface family and installed it as well.

Some of Special classification fonts I appreciate working with. These are sub categorized under Special Classification as Fat Face fonts and have long alphabet lengths;

In the examples above the names are set at 18 pt. The upper and lower character samples vary in size set at 18 pt or less. These are used typically as display fonts, very rarely for blocks of text.
Some links to font resources follow;

If you need a additional consultation on fonts I can provide that for a reasonable creative services fee.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Oblique Text In Typography

Recently I was asked this question; What is the use of oblique text in typography and how to not use it?

The difference between Italics typeface and Oblique text it is a difficult distinction to understand and not a quick easy answer.

 The simple answer is don't use oblique text to create professionally set type.

In typography that means only use type-set in “true-drawn” Italics. Type not made slanted or oblique with a program on your computer, such as Word. With many word processing or text editing applications you can create computer-generated slanted versions or oblique text based off their Roman companions. 

Oblique vs Italic is a subject of some depth.

For this answer I am calling Obliques the slanted versions of their Roman companion with no major design differences.

Italics typeface of professional quality then, are hand-drawn, or very skillfully modified to optically correct the distortion that results from angled design. Italics have different design characteristics. They are more than a typeface that is angled to it’s upright companion typeface. Italics are a complementary design similar, but in a different way to a book, bold, black, or light typeface family weight version. In some Itlalic versions you can see a calligraphic appearance, often those designed for a serif typeface family. A san serif Italic may only have a few characters that have differences. The lower case a is different as an example in Myriad Italic.

It gets sticky when the word Oblique is used as this to many typographers of 30 plus years in setting type means fake versus true italics. The terms Oblique and Italic like Font and Typeface are loosely used. It is no wonder so many are confused as typefaces are sold with the word oblique in the typeface name. 

In the time before computers and typewriters, handwriting was used. In something like a handwritten manuscript certain markup was universally used to indicate the written copy (content) mechanics and punctuation. Other correction marks were used, placed in margins to indicate usage, spelling, grammar, general effectiveness by editors, art directors, proofreader’s communicating to the printer and typesetter. Eventually a standard set of symbols were used to convey instructions to the typesetter called Proofreader’s Marks.
I tell you this because over time Italic type has taken over many of the functions previously performed by quotation marks. Eventually as typewriters came into use to prepare manuscripts Italics were indicated to typesetters by a single straight line underlining each word to be italicized on the typewritten page. Still today, Italics are indicated in typewritten or handwritten manuscript by underlining.

As to use,

Italics are used to designate;

  • Books
  • Magazines and Newspapers
  • Bulletins
  • Pamphlets
  • Musical Productions
  • Plays, films, and Broadcast Programs
  • Long Poems
“You are so right,” she remarked. [Only italics will convey the speaker’s oral emphasis.]

There are many rules, and my above list is  brief. You can get in-depth reference and explanation from finding Handbooks of English about style, usage and grammar or use something like The Chicago Manual of Style.

Typesetting is done after a graphic designer or art director have carefully considered context, purpose, audience and more. The typeface family is then selected or may be specified by brand guidelines. 

When setting type the client, required or not, will send me a printed copy sheet and this has notes and proofreader marks. I also get an accompanying text or word file to use. For some projects I generate this written copy, as I am both Art Director and Copywriter for a client. Point is copy needs to go through drafts and proofing, markup. Then is typesetting. Good writing and typesetting require human massage. 

When you see a word underlined with a single straight line, use the true Italic typeface, never a fake Oblique version.

To learn more and get visual written examples there is a good article by Mark Simon on Fake vs. True Italics. Go to this url into your browser

A lot of other in-depth discussion on this topic exist, I suggest to start. Good Luck!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Fonts exist as part of your computers operating system, no fonts exist in the Microsoft Word application their are several fonts installed along with it. 

Link to post on typewriter fonts:
What are some typewriter fonts in Microsoft Word?
The selection of fonts you see when using Microsoft Word exist as part of your computers operating system. That is to say these are typefaces that have been loaded or installed onto your computer. Some of the typeface choices you see came with the operating system, others as part of Microsoft office or other installed applications. You may have purchased a single font or a whole typeface family and installed it as well.
A typewriter used a fixed typewriter pitch vs the modern fonts in todays typography. Each typewriter fixed pitch font requires the same amount of space – an “I” takes up the same width as an “M” as an“O” as the “J”
Metal, Photographic typesetting, and Digital typesetting Fonts are proportionally spaced — each letter is designed with as much space as needed for appearance and legibility.
Fonts such as Courier or Courier New are likely a fixed width or mono-spaced font. Fonts that appear to be “typewriter fonts” and are in some classification systems called slab serif fonts, many are also one of your computers system fonts (Courier New, Monaco, Lucdia, Andale Mono) are the fixed font flavor, but that is not always the case.
If the font has “Mono” as part of its name you can be confident it is a fixed width or Mono-spaced font. One other check is use a Type Weight Comparison, that has several typeface specimen set in same point size, set solid, that has same number of characters in each of three different sentence. If it is a mono-spaced font the sentences would take same space, if proportional they will obviously show different line lengths.
So you can see difference in top three and bottom three Type samples line lengths, you know the top three are some examples of mono-spaced or fixed width fonts. The two specimen American Typewriter and Chaparral Pro Bold, both slab serif, both look similar or appear as “typewriter fonts” but are proportional fonts.
Some fixed width or mono-space fonts starting with slab serif then serif then san serif not already mentioned are:
Tex Gyre Cursor
Luxi Mono
Klartext Mono
Fira Mono
Droid Sans Mono
Bitstream Vera Sans Mono
Oxygen Mono
These are just some, not endorsing or promoting, you just have to try them in your design, lot of others you can check and test out too.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

What are the best fonts for wedding programs?

What are the best fonts for wedding programs?

This choice depends and is contingent on the many factors of the wedding program project as a part of the entire occasion. Some factors include; who are the people being married and what they want their wedding occasion to be.
Questions about wedding theme, social position, size, formality, budget, is their a need for a cohesive look, all these answers and more will influence type choice, paper choice, print method, binding, folding, finishing. These choices all need to work together as well.

One of the many reasons you work with a professional graphic designer is that this is where the typographic, material, printing knowledge and design esthetic you seek resides. A graphic design professional will guide you and expertly design and produce; invitations, save the dates, ceremony programs & reception programs, shower & party cards, matching envelopes, even wedding websites.

What are the best typefaces for cartography?

What are the best typefaces for cartography?

I originally posted the answer on Quora which is where this question came to me.
A hard question to answer quickly.
In part it depends on the map. Road map, site map, area map, USGS Topography maps, Green Trails maps or on screen navigation map display are just a few map forms. Each map is similar but each can have a unique use.
Typography and graphic design of books, magazines, pamphlet, poster, ad, billboard, flyer you try to accomplish legibility and readability with the type. The balance may shift, poster headline that is highly legible set in unique or unusual typeface that type choice may not work for lines of copy in that poster design.
Cartography has many differences then typography in publishing print or on internet.
Typography on a map as a general guideline your selecting especially clear sans serifs typefaces, those typefaces engineered for cramped conditions, that work at small point size, and collections of symbols and markers are all useful when designing maps. But serif fonts are used too, look at a USGS topo map and you can see this.
The typography applied in cartography design the text and graphics compete. The text itself can represent a feature on a map. The typography on a map also needs to accomplish legibility and readability. The text is small, the text has a style hierarchy, text has a different kind of interplay with textured backgrounds and colors.
A popular typeface in use on printed maps is Cisalpin
A handy typeface of symbols is Carta Regular
Partial character set follows 

A list of some typefaces used on maps;
Myriad Pro.
Gill Sans.
The typography on a map has some unique demanding specifications. Mapmaking designs can have many purpose, type choice can reflect that.

Maps that follow are good illustrations of purpose.

The first example has two kinds of maps shown as part of a page of a brochure. The smaller map a location map, the other larger map a site map. These two maps work together intentionally. They share many of the same typefaces, but not all the same symbols and each has a own unique presentation of information style. Each map is unique in its purpose.
The next example is a bus route map that is the main purpose. It is also a stop location and street map. It is quite different from its parent the weekday route map. This map was to be fun and inviting to the weekend user. The look reflects posters, adds, billboards, and bus sideboards as part of a campaign to attract more weekend bus ridership. The map itself uses condensed san serif fonts, The surrounding typefaces unique, bold and colors are a bright, loud spectrum. A specialized purpose map.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

What is a good font type and size for subtitles on a video to be used on a portal?

A question asked, my answer.

Not all typefaces are crafted and designed to be used when setting captions, text, subheads, and display headlines. Even though current technology makes it possible to set any typeface at any size regardless of the intended use of the original font design. It is not appropriate and the novice, apprentice, junior designer doing so often has odd looking results.

Knowing the demographics of your intended audience in addition to understanding the design brief are imperative steps to take in selecting a type design that performs well in the medium you intend to use.

Without at least that basic audience and design brief knowledge or my understanding what background you have or lack in graphic design and typography all I can comfortably steer you towards is to look at “Display” type.

Display or headline typeface is type that can forgo the extreme legibility and readability needed for long blocks of text at small sizes in favor of a stronger voice, more elaborate and expressive shapes, and a more distinctive look. Good quality display type are designed with subtle detailing, elegant proportions, and increased stroke contrast to have enhanced visual appeal at sizes above 24 point.

In what ever medium utilized, type and typography are visual media that are very much affected by size. It is important to select appropriate typeface font for the intended size range. This problem is one graphic designers are trained to solve. Typographic expertise is one of the reasons you hire and forge a business relationship with a professional graphic designer.

The Web Has Changed (is changing) However The Web Design Process Still Holds True.

The Web Has Changed (is changing) However The Web Design Process Still Holds True.
By: Theodore Baker
Last couple of years the web site buzz was the “Box Model” coded with HTML 5 styled with CSS, at the same time you were surrounded with social media, today is the “Responsive Design Philosophy” or mobil design. We see “FREE” 5-minute web design templates ads pop up everywhere, and every business web guru is telling you it is just a matter of having good content. 
Like any visual communication a web site to be successful takes elaborate planning and conceptualization. The first steps in web design project are the most challenging phases. Defining a web sites main purpose, what message to convey and how this message will be conveyed is hard time consuming work. The best web sites the ones you find to be useful all went through a Web Design Process. These best sites have a common feature; sharp and focused communication. This is not a new idea it is 101 business and marketing, and it is a hard thing to accomplish in any medium.
A Web Design will use six phases in the web site design process. These phases are:
• Discovery
• Definition, Information Architecture and Usability
• Creative Design
• Development
• Deployment
• Documentation
The heading points may have slight difference between designers and developers, however the design process has been around for ever and it works across all media.
A relevant web site design will not happen in five minutes.
Great design is accomplished with superlative collaborative work. The web design process takes a lot of hard work. Yes your paying a lot for web design team but your going to have to work too, and hard. You're going to invest a great deal of time to enable the web design team to do their part of the work.
Template design and point and click site building tools are just like paying for SEO services. In the long run it is not going to be sustainable and work well for your business web site.

In just a few clicks… , You just add content… It’s not that these template site services are bad, the design are solid the coding proven (well mostly). The problem is you are short and skinny and your buying off the rack at the big and tall. When you use these services you cut the corners of the web design process. So even though you picked the design from the proper business category, the solution the template provides is not going to result in a web site design that gives you sharp and focused communication about your unique business. To create good content you have to go through all of the web site design phases, it‘s a process.