From leading and kerning to managing your fonts correctly, our panel of experts from around the globe offer essential advice for honing your type skills.
From embracing simplicity to befriending your printer, designers reveal the type tips they follow to the letter.
01 Mix and match
Yomar Augusto, www.yomaraugusto.com
"With book typography, as a starter try to find a font that has a big enough family to fulfil all your potential wishes. If you come across a typeface that lacks different weights, but you insist on using it, it might be helpful to check typefaces that are designed by the same designer. They often have the same genes and mix well together."
02 Colour your type
Ryan Katrina, www.neuarmy.com
"Most of what we encounter is black type on a white surface. The use of colour with type, especially display type, can have a huge emotional impact on a project as long as much consideration is given to maintaining strong contrast, clarity and readability. It's common to work in black initially, adding colour when appropriate."
03 Stay flexible
Jérémie Nuel, www.atelieraquarium.com
"Our choice of font depends on many factors: sometimes it's simply the design of the letter, a historical reference, its readability or a contemporary type design from some designer we like. We look at its ability to be modified and its [level of] specificity. We try to ensure maximum liberty as we don't want to be stuck with some arbitrary choice."
04 Line up properly
Aegir Hallmundur, www.ministryoftype.co.uk
"A neat way to improve the readability of your pages, especially online, is to maintain a clean, straight left margin in any column. This is especially important in your first column, where your logo, navigation, headlines, subheads, datelines and copy text should all line up. Boxouts and bulleted lists should also be extended so that it's the text in them, rather the box edge or bullets, that lines up with the copy."
05 Appreciate contemporary genius
Hey Studio, www.heystudio.es
"Hey Studio loves Christian Schwartz, and thinks that he is one of the best contemporary type designers. His fonts are different but still have the essence of classic typefaces such as Garamond. The important thing is to choose from the best type designers - there are many of them - but for us it's Christian Schwartz."
06 Read 'the Crystal goblet'
Cardon Webb, www.cardondesign.com
"All designers and typographers should read The Crystal Goblet (or Printing Should Be Invisible) by Beatrice Warde. This is an amazing essay about the use of type and type as a tool. By the end of the article, assess whether or not you agree with what was presented, wholly, partially or not at all. This will tell you a lot about who you are as a designer and typographer."
07 Keep your font count low
"When you use more than three fonts - maybe a slab, a serif and a display - per project, it's difficult to read and understand; the project lacks order. Usually, one font has different weights and you can resolve a graphic design project using these in the correct way. The result will be cleaner and sharper."
08 Embrace criticism and feedback
Barry Spencer, www.barryspencerdesign.com.au
"When working on any project, be it type-based or not, you should embrace discussion on what you are doing. Even negative feedback leads to things, so keep an open mind. Negative feedback helps you improve and grow with what you do."
09 Don't scrimp on materials
Hansje van Halem, www.hansje.net
"The choice of paper determines 60 per cent of a design. Be aware when picking a paper; it doesn't have to be an expensive, fancy kind, just a conscious choice. Select a paper that feels right between your fingers, one that makes the right sound when you (un)fold it."
Top type tip
Learn to appreciate value
"Good fonts are worth their price. Well-designed typefaces are expensive because they've gone through thousands of hours of development. Don't use pirated fonts, especially if you're being paid to design with them; save up for a well-crafted typeface or get a client to pay for it - you'll have a great typography tool in your arsenal for the rest of your career."
10 Keep it simple
David John Earls, www.typographer.org
"I agree with Hey Studio. It is easy to get carried away by using lots of different typefaces in a piece of design. Resist the urge - less is more. Choose two decent families and stick to them, concentrating on your project's information hierarchy and considerate typesetting."
11 Forget about Small Caps
John D Berry, www.johndberry.com
"Unless you know the difference between true small caps and fake ones, it's best to just forget that your program's Small Caps command even exists. Never just shrink full-size caps down and call them small caps; they aren't. If you're willing to go to the trouble of using real small caps, be sure to letter-space them properly - that is, a little looser than lowercase."
12 Put yourself into your work
Juan Carlos Pagan, www.jcpagan.com
"I am of the school of thought that graphic design should not only reflect but should create culture, and by doing so become the spark that fires discourse. I also find it important, rewarding and maybe even necessary for designers to inject a bit of themselves into their work. For instance, I can't help but allow my lingering sense of prepubescent humour to seep into some of my concepts; it's simply who I am, and to reject it would be to reject the fact that I am a thinking, feeling person."
13 Try before you buy
Robin Snasen RengÃ¥rd, www.madebymade.no
"When buying fonts for a particular project you should always try the main characters before you decide to purchase it. Most type foundries have a function on their website that lets you write your own sentences. I've bought very expensive fonts in the past that have got discarded because the different letters, when put together, didn't look at all like what I had imagined. The feeling of a particular font can be hard to pin down until you start combining the words."
14 Typography as voice visualisation
Hoon Kim, www.whynotsmile.com
"To deal with type is much the same as to control one's voice: [think of] selecting typefaces as voice quality; having a relationship with type in size, amount and degrees as vocal tone; and setting layouts of type as voices in space and time. Typographic design is visible as well as audible. If you have a great scenario, now it is time to cast good actors."
15 Overcome complexity
Andrei Robu, www.andreirobu.com
"Graphic design is so very complex - you're [working on] a canvas composed of typography, illustration, photography, colours and ideas. It takes a thorough understanding of each element individually for one to create an outstanding piece of graphic design, yet simplicity works best for a wide range of targets."
16 Lay strong foundations
"Graphic design for us is inseparable from typographical work; each project is most often seen from a typographic angle. The letters are the medium of language; nothing is more meaningful. The photo and the drawing leave room for interpretation, which is very useful in some cases, but for our work typography remains the foundation."
17 Make friends with your printer
Jason Rubino, www.makestudio.co.uk
"Build a good relationship with your printer - they are more valuable than you know. When I was starting out, my printer helped me out with any errors that occurred in final pieces, such as going too small on body copy or using a font that was too thin and bled out into the page."
18 Use text faces in display contexts
Peter Crnokrak, www.theluxuryofprotest.com
"Although text faces are designed to be set at small sizes, the better designed fonts have such gorgeous curves that they function well in display contexts. Be warned, though: properly setting a lowercase, regular weight text face at display sizes takes great expertise; a lot of white space around the text is required to impart a display quality."
19 Breathe typography
"Typography is the conscious control of breathing. Type exists to be read, and reading the texts works together with breathing - slow or fast breathing; soft or tough breathing; short or long breathing; continual or irregular breathing. Based on purpose, typography guides the breathing of readers [while they] engage, linger and understand."
Top type tip
Learn the rules to break them
David John Earls
"Innovation only works when it is backed up by an appreciation of the basic rules of typography. Learn the rules and, most importantly, practise them; only by understanding how typography works can you hope to be successful when you experiment with breaking them."
20 Keep your poster work balanced
Dongwoo Kim, www.networkosaka.com
"Composition is key when designing posters, as you only get one chance to impress your public. Try to keep all elements (typography, graphic elements and white space) balanced using rhythm, contrast and so on. Paul Rand's book A Designer's Art can be great food for thought."
21 Pony up
Phil Kiel, www.philKiel.com
"Don't think you're a one-trick pony just because you like using a certain one or two fonts; it takes years to truly master a font, so why not start early?"
22 Strive for perfection
Theo Aartsma, www.sumeco.net
"There is always the possibly of improvement - look at everything, the whole composition; Everything should be at the best of your ability. After you've completed the work, let it rest for a while, then look back at it with fresh eyes and start improving even more."
23 Love your typeface
"Fall in love with a typeface. If you truly love it, you won't do it harm. If your typography doesn't look good, it's not the type's fault - it's all in the grey values mixed from the black of the type and the white of space around it."
24 Be a viewfinder
John D Berry
"Think about where the type will be viewed from: will it be sitting on a page in a reader's lap, or hung on a wall? Will it be seen straight on, or at an acute angle? How far away will it be? What's readable when it's big and up close may not be readable when it's tiny and far away; what's readable straight on may look squashed together when viewed from the side or from below."
25 Learn to streamline
Astrid Stavro, www.astridstavro.com
"Two of the designers I admire most, Richard Hollis and Derek Birdsall, have produced some of the most interesting, inspiring and timeless pieces of graphic design using a very limited number of typefaces. This should prove that, at the end of the day, out of the thousands of typefaces available, all we really need are a few basic ones."
26 Go against the grain
"If you want to achieve the look and feel of wood type but don't have access to a press, find a physical set of wood type characters from a local defunct print shop, or maybe eBay. Set your type, transfer it to a scanner, then alter the type image in any way you want."
27 Enlist type designer help
"For trademarks and when you are designing logotypes, have an expert cast their eye over them so you can be sure of perfection. You don't always spot the tiny faults yourself."
28 Respect the hierarchy
"Your job as a typographer is to make a text visual. You don't always have to read the text, but you have to understand what it's about and its skeleton. What is dominant and what follows naturally?"
29 Don't do 'grunge'
"There are no good 'grunge' fonts. Distressed type should reflect the actual processes that have broken the letters. If you have to make something look dirty, Photoshop should not be your tool of choice."
30 Respect the type designer's decisions
David John Earls
"Don't bastardise type by stretching, skewing or altering its dimensions. Just like you wouldn't stretch a photo or illustration, don't do it to type - the results are ugly and will mark you out as amateur. Type designers spend hundreds of hours on their typefaces, and the choices they make in their designs are made with good reason."
31 More copy equals more columns
"Type columns should not be too wide. Breaking up a large amount of type into smaller columns is more effective."
Top type tip
Be leading clever
"When setting your type sizes, make sure you also set the leading - a rough rule of thumb is to set it to 150 per cent of the point size, so 10pt text would have 15pt leading. Give paragraphs a bottom margin equal to the leading and, to create a basic baseline grid, use only multiples of that number for margins and leading on lists, headings and so on."
Essential advice for carrying your typography from concept to comprehensibility
01 It's all about space
John D Berry
"What we read isn't just letters - it's the spaces within the letters and the spaces between. So if we set the letters too close together, the balance between black and white is lost, and the words are hard to read. The same goes if the letters are so far apart that they don't hold together at all. The spaces between words, too, need to be in harmony with the way the letters fit together. Then, pay attention to the length of the line and the space between lines."
02 Study craftsmanship
Kenny Allan, www.el-studio.co.uk
"It is of paramount importance that all design students learn, understand and explore the true essence of typography. Typography is a craft, a skill that forms and dictates an overwhelming contribution to all design applications. It allows flexibility through structure, something clearly demonstrated from the early pioneers to present-day practitioners. Good typography requires patience, attention to detail and craftsmanship through execution. Typography is the art of communication."
03 Wake up!
"Be observant; look for and notice the type that surrounds you. Is it working - why or why not? Pay attention to what you like and dislike, then apply it in your practise. Try to make a point to learn the history of a typeface. Love type, treat it nicely, build a relationship with it."
04 Kern the nuts off it
Alex Haigh, www.hypefortype.com
"Kerning is one of the most important aspects of typography. It's taken for granted, but you can clearly see the difference between standard and manually kerned typography. It's important to make sure a piece of typography works as a core unit - even if this means you have to spend hours making sure the spaces between the letters are equal."
05 Add the human touch
Sam Harris, www.samtriptych.co.uk
"Handwriting or handwritten typefaces give a great personal, human tone to a piece of work, and can also suggest a conversation with the reader. Instead of trawling through the thousands of handwritten fonts out there, write it yourself and scan it in, or ask a mate to do it if they have nicer handwriting. Job done."
06 Draft your idea
Panos Vassiliou, www.parachute.gr
"In most cases, the idea is drafted initially as a rough sketch of several characters with as many characteristics as I can fit on the paper. Then I create a second, more elaborate, sketch of three basic characters such as 'a', 'n' and 'o'. These are the three letters I always design first, since they contain many of the characteristics I need as a guide for the other characters."
07 Feel the love
"It's one of those things that I tend to forget in the process sometimes, but kicking back and bringing yourself back down to Earth really helps your design. It makes you see everything in perspective. Creative people have the greatest jobs in the world, and some of them can forget that sometimes."
08 Recycle type
"My favourite method is to research inside my personal type drawing archive - I have many unfinished designs that I often use in new projects. I really see type design as 'mutable matter'; something with endless possibilities and directions. I look to the past a lot as well, visiting old book shops."
09 Trust in handicraft
Alison Carmichael, www.alisoncarmichael.com
"Designers should break away from the confines of their workstation and not be afraid to use handcrafts. Go back to basics, collect lots of reference material and commission the experts in their fields. Don't let handcrafts die out in favour of pure digital design."
Top type tip
Build on philosophy
"An underlying philosophy forms the foundation for all the work we create, whether it be a client's look-book or the design of a bespoke typeface. What we attempt to impart to colleagues is that inspiration for their bespoke creations can be derived from their own unique value systems and experiences. Formulate your own opinions regarding typography, and use that as a catalyst to invent."
10 Don't be afraid to play
"We try whenever possible to draw characters for fun first, because we like it and it gives a personal tone to our design. We also like drawing letters for specific needs and custom projects. Sometimes we design type with an experimental purpose - for example, our font Anamorphose uses layout and perspective in 3D space to describe the letter form."
11 Think of typography as architecture
"Designing content with type is comparable to constructing and composing architectural elements. A piece of paper, frame or book is the space given to designers. To get the essence of an idea, typography escorts readers to explore and experience the surrounding spaces. You are a guide of the journey. Which direction, what order and how much time would make for great travels?"
12 Give added value
"Give more than expected. Add this extra value to your product without raising the price. But more is not always the merrier - it must be useful as well. Several of our typefaces are completed with symbols, which are handy to designers involved with branding and packaging. You may decide to add some ornaments or concentrate on some extra ligatures, but whatever you do, make sure it serves its purpose."
13 Polish your curves
David John Earls
"Practice drawing with beziers whenever you can. Trace letters or shapes you see and like around you - it will help you to understand beziers and help your typeface design. Aside from the technical considerations (fewer points will result in a smaller font - important for emerging webfont standards) the more points, the greater the chance there is for clunky, bumpy curves to sneak in."
14 Make your mistakes work for you
Adam J Evans, www.bunchdesign.com
"Don't stress too much over your type; relax, enjoy it and don't be afraid to get it wrong. For me, typography always seemed very academic, and the only thing in 'art' that did have a right or wrong answer. Because of this I avoided it, but as soon as I started taking positives out of my countless mistakes instead of dwelling on the negative, my work improved no end. Remember that it takes a lot of shit to grow a beautiful flower."
15 Be disciplined and interested
Hubert Jocham, www.hubertjocham.de
"Type projects do not usually go wrong - they rather dry out and you have to start again. The process of type design, for me, is very interesting when you design the lower case letter, some of the upper case letters and maybe the figures. But then it gets more and more hard work. The elements can look interesting, but the text looks boring. It needs a lot of discipline, but stay interested!"
16 Read into the subject
"Of all, there are four books on typography that I consider 'musts': American Metal Typefaces of the 20th Century by Mac McGrew, The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst, Letters of Credit by Walter Tracy, and Writing & Illuminating & Lettering by Edward Johnston."
17 Practice humility in type
Juan Carlos Pagan
"The idea that one can create something that carries with it one of man's greatest achievements - language - is not only inspiring but deeply humbling. With that said, I have always taken the position that one should approach the task with a great deal of respect and humility."
18 Loss leaders
"The first typeface is always a failure. Because the area is so complex, the first typeface will always suffer under many mistakes. So don't ever think you can change the world with your first typeface. Take it as a learning process."
19 Have a head start
"When you start working, do everything as fast as you can. This works the same with brainstorming - it boosts your creativity. Learn to love little mistakes and coincidental solutions. Then, as you continue with your work, slow down until finally you're spending hours on the fine details. Also learn where your strength in the process lies, and exploit that to the best of your ability."
Top type tip
Do metrics by hand
Juan Carlos Pagan
"Take time over your typeface's kerning and metrics - don't rely on your software's calculations, do it by hand. Each typeface has its own nuances that automatic calculations can't hope to understand. Automatic kerning can help as a starting point, although just remember to factor in a good chunk of time to tweak and adjust your metrics to perfection."
20 Boredom is an important tool
Oded Ezer, www.odedezer.com
"The thing we fear most in our profession is that we will be bored of the job, bored of the client and of our life as designers. I say that boredom is a tool, just like play. Whenever you are bored, the first step is to say, 'I hate this'. Then you start to daydream, and this is exactly when you come up with stupid ideas. That's the moment you become original."
21 Don't worry
"Enjoy creating your own fonts - don't think you have to be trained professionally or worry about your fonts looking amateur. Don't keep your fonts hidden away, only using them for yourself; you should give them to every designer you know, ask them what works and what doesn't. Constructive criticism is how you improve and learn."
22 Don't be a hermit
"A common problem with people who finally go in the direction of type design is that they love to work on their own. A typeface is something that does not need many people working on it - you can all finalise it on your own. That is why many type-designers are so strange. You do need to keep in contact with life."
23 Customise using Fontlab
"Designers frequently crave rare typefaces that give a bespoke quality to their work. Instead of searching through type specimen books, customise your favourite typeface by using the powerful transformation tools in FontLab. Multiple Master, Interpolation and Actions tools enable the designer to create changes - subtle or dramatic - that result in a typeface that no one else possesses."
24 Scale up
"At college, I once had to take the letter 'R' from a serif typeface and re-draw it on a large piece of paper. I then checked it to see how close to the original I was. It made me consider every curve, stroke and change in weight of the letterform. Collect and reference anything typographic that catches your eye - a logo, a typeface, a business card, a nice clean spread, and ask yourself why you like it; what's good or different about it? Keep asking questions."
25 Search far and wide for inspiration
Heist Toronto, www.heist-toronto.com
"Find inspiration from other sources: anatomy, music, architecture, fashion or beyond. Typography is about finding relationships, contrasts and underlying tensions between elements and concepts - one typeface we provided was inspired by fashion designer Rick Owens. Typography can be image, it can be three-dimensional, it can manifest itself in physical materials - there are endless possibilities."
26 Make your work emotive
"We are trained to think how our work will look. This is totally wrong. I think the best graphic works in the world are those that make you feel something - be that angry, happy, sad... Think about graphic works in how their behaviour affects the audience. The look of a thing [affects] only your mind, not your heart."
27 Don't shield your work, share it
"Be open when working on anything - believing that others are out to get you or steal your ideas is not a good way to think. Most of the time you will have been staring at the same thing for [ages], so showing someone else could lead you to an idea that you may have missed."
28 Watch the clock
"Designing type can be one of the most exciting projects you'll ever encounter, but it's also one of the hardest. Always have in mind the time frame you have available, as designing letterforms day in and day out can be very time-consuming."
29 Challenge yourself with a text face
"A graphic designer's first foray into type design is usually a display face. They are unquestionably easier to design and are often created by designers looking to impart a unique feel to a project. But to truly understand type and the nuanced details of its construction, you need to try your hand at designing a text face."
Top type tip
Know your limits
"Typeface design can often be born from a single letter, but a good approach is to start designing or sketching your initial ideas with a few key characters ('n', 'b', 'o' and 'v' for example) or a specific word. Keeping early designs to a limited set - fewer than nine characters is good practice, as the design will evolve. This gives you something to reflect on, considering proportion and translation before you extend it further."
30 No pain, no gain
"I always enjoy it when people critique my work, especially when they refer to things they don't like. This makes me grow as a designer, as I enjoy facing challenges such as these. Receiving critiques from fellow designers can be a great asset to have in order to view your work from a different perspective."
31 Start your families small
"Start with a very careful and detailed design of three to four extreme weights, for instance black, regular and light. Make sure they contain the same number of similar nodes. Use interpolation to generate the remaining weights. Interpolation does not translate into an automatic production of the other weights - in most cases an exhaustive amount of corrections and adjustments must be performed."
32 Don't neglect the negative space
David John Earls
"In type design, negative space is as important as the characters themselves. Don't design characters in isolation; design a typeface as a whole, not just a set of character designs. Test your typeface throughout its development by setting it in a variety of ways - as body text, as headlines, big and small."
33 Experiment tirelessly
"When it comes to using typography within design, it's almost impossible to plan your outcome; it isn't a case of creating an idea and running with it. Tireless experimentation is where great ideas and great solutions come from. I can't think of a better way of working with typography than creating a vast variety of versions, taking each version forward and finally settling on a pleasant end result you didn't expect to reach."
34 Get your (side)bearings
"Things like the spacing or kerning of characters, as well as the proper position or shape of accents, are very important for a demanding customer. If letters are not properly spaced, the text will be hard to read. Start by adjusting the sidebearings of capitals 'H' and 'O', as well as lowercase 'n' and 'o', which you will use as your reference. Then, for every new character created, adjust the sidebearings based on the similarities of its straight or round strokes to the letters used as reference."
35 Customise everything
"Since 2002, I've been designing types for my logotypes projects and clients pretty much from scratch. The approach has now taken on a higher level of professionalism and refining, and nowadays I customise everything."
Draw on these tips to create stunning typographic illustrations
01 Like reading a book
Michele Angelo, www.superexpresso.com
"Communicating with type is not the same as reading a book. While the aim of illustrated type is to be read, legibility is not the main goal. It's more important to interpret the 'personality' of the concept I need to communicate, finding interesting elements and then trying to apply them to the fonts."
02 Harness calligraphic energy
"I have been trying to compare the power of calligraphy and typography. Calligraphy is the reaction between paper, metal (or brush) and ink. I want to mix this energy into my typography designs."
03 How far can you take it?
"How far can letterforms be taken forward or stripped back before they are no longer considered letters? When illustrating with a typeface, it is always possible to play around with letterforms. Things don't always need to stick to a rigid format just because that's what you're used to. You never know where it might lead."
Top type tip
A letter to the world
Jonathan Calugi, www.happyloverstown.eu
"When you create a letter, think about that letter as a complete world. And when you write a word, think of the word as an entire universe. If you write with love, you can write many things inside each and every letter. One letter can speak more than an entire book."
04 Build a scrapbook
"I'm not talking about ideas you scribbled down three years ago that are now unreadable. A scrapbook, for me, is purely about inspirational typography that you can learn from. Whether it's a very clever letterform or a seamless piece of type with the simplest idea, it's hugely important to learn and absorb what works and what doesn't."
05 No pedestals please
"Don't put type on such a pedestal that it becomes untouchable. Too many designers are afraid of creating, customising and altering type. The most beautiful type treatments you see are often drawn, altered and pushed by the hand of a designer. Ask what you can bring to the typeface, not what the typeface can bring to you. Words have a look and sound, so amplify them."
06 Trust your senses
"Recent graduates often worry about 'the rules', but they sometimes forget to use the most useful instrument of all: common sense. Trust your own eyes; it has always worked for me."
07 There is no shortcut to good design
"Just because you can make a turd shine with a Photoshop filter, it doesn't mean that you should. Don't use fancy stylisations, filters or effects as a substitute for good design."
08 Make sketches your springboard
Robin Snasen RengÃ¥rd
"When illustrating type, I usually sketch the techniques beforehand. Experimenting enables me to work without constraints, and it's always nice to have a library of ideas and shapes to fall back on. These sketches often serve as a springboard for the work, and they let me focus on the things that work in the design rather than experimenting the client's budget to a pulp."
09 Think about your audience
"Make sure you're designing for the project, not for other graphic designers. There's nothing more boring than self-referential 'design for designers.' Always keep the audience in mind."
10 Do the strip test
"Good type outruns trends and time. If you strip your own work of any kind of effects, gradients and abuse of colour, you will see whether it has graphic value or not."
11 Balance, instinct and method
Alex Trochut, www.alextrocut.com
"Strike a balance between instinct and methodology. Intuition is very important at the beginning of the process, when the creative part is more important and free. Focus in your instincts then. But, at a certain point, it is always a great help to create your own rules or method to give the piece the coherence you are looking for."
12 Let the reader fill in the gaps
Sean Freeman, www.thereis.co.uk
"I've had some great requests recently for headline treatments that need to look organic and natural but still legible. It can be tricky to get to that special place of balancing legibility with a beautiful treatment. One thing I've found you can do is not necessarily make every single letter perfectly legible on its own, but [emphasise] what the key letters are. The reader's mind does the rest."
13 The path to righteousness
Marta Cerdà , www.martacerda.com
"Don't be afraid to go backwards in your process, starting over again where you thought it was wrong. Long paths are usually better than short paths, because you learn more in the process. Maybe you'll leave an open path that you can use as the start of another project."
14 Be articulate
"Know why you do the things you do; be able to explain your actions and your designs in an articulate way. If you do go and decide to question the typography status quo, make sure you can back it up with an explanation because, if you do break the 'rules', there will be those who criticise and question what you have done."
Top type tip
Don't ask permission
Juan carlos Pagan
"I always get a great feeling about design when I view work that makes me think twice about my own preconceived, purely subjective notions regarding the relationships between form, space and colour. This feeling is only heightened when it's combined with strong concepts. Don't forget to start making the work you want to make now - don't wait for anyone to give you permission to start. It won't come."
15 Pay attention to texture
"A process I really like is using textures that make the type block more organic and 'alive'. I'm not saying I don't respect the rules of type, but the classic rules of legibility, which I admit I never really studied at school but I had to learn in recent years, don't always apply to my headers and lettering. Sometimes a good result is about a visual balance and an interesting development of the letterforms."
16 Image and information
"How do you find the right balance between image and information? There is no definite answer to this question. The only way to deal with it is to design typefaces; you will never get a final answer, but you might get nearer to it."
17 Embrace space
"When you are working with type or a two-colour illustration, give white or empty spaces the same importance as black or full spaces. Deciding what percentage of the piece you want to fill and what you don't may help. Empty spaces will also define the elements you have to read, so the more balanced the space between elements is, the more harmonic it becomes."
18 Be consistent with your concept
"It's difficult for us at Atelier Aquarium to regard letters as decorative elements, so we rarely use type illustratively. Even when we arrive at a solution, we try to choose the form of the letter and the type of sign that will support the meaning of the whole document. In the case of letters drawn by hand, more often than not it works well. This choice needs to be consistent with the concept behind the entire project, and not a mechanical action."
19 Have your own take on trends
"Hijacking or trend jumping can be a tricky area, as no one can 'own' the alphabet, or Helvetica for that matter. What is important is to take in what's happening in the world of typography and design, make up your own opinions, and do what you think best suits your style."
20 Every letter deserves love
"If you're going to the effort of doing this amazing headline, why re-use letters within it? It seems so lazy. Obviously re-using letters saves a lot of time, but surely every letter deserves some love?"
21 Do your ideas justice
"If your design is meant to look handmade or handwritten, don't use a bad handwriting font. Invest the extra time and energy to actually draw it by hand. If you don't have the skill to do it yourself, get someone else to help you. Do the best you can for your ideas."
22 Use a pencil
Robin Snasen RengÃ¥rd
"Starting out with a pencil and paper before you throw yourself at the mercy of Adobe Illustrator is a quick and organic way to start building a typeface. There is something about the flow of sketching by hand that I find very useful as opposed to starting designs directly on a computer. This applies for both rigid font making and free, organic illustration work. You can't beat the precision of Illustrator, but using a pencil can create new approaches and angles to create the type."
23 You are unique
Juan Carlos Pagan
"Everyone has their own approach and aesthetics regarding typography. All one has to do is stay true to that. No one can quite do what the likes of Alex Trochut do, and no one can do what you do. The trick is doing it in your own way, adding your own little twist to type, and mastering it."
24 Do you want art status?
"Type-led illustration can be as coded and hard to read as the designer decides. It reached art status a long time ago. It should not be confused with title typography, which should be enhanced but still readable by anyone."
Top type tip
See type as shapes, not letters
"When designing display type, it is a common predilection to design recognisable letterforms as opposed to intriguing shape/shape relationships. Even if the intention is to retain a functional level of legibility, designers have quite a lot of room to engineer visually arresting forms. The Non-Format team are masters in this regard. Many of their display faces retain a pronounced experimental and playful quality."
25 Shaping your composition
"When working with a composition for a particular display text or headline, looking at the shapes of the letters for that particular context might help you to choose one type or another, or help you to determine the best way to play with the composition of the words on the page. If there are lots of 'V's, 'K's, 'A's or 'M's you might want to play with diagonal composition; for 'P's, 'Q's, 'O's and 'R's you might want to focus on the round shapes."
26 Build your character
"When working with letters, it might help to imagine which personality you want to give to your type, just as if it was a real person, with their character, twitches and style. So, when you find yourself forced to make decisions, it might be helpful to follow this approach instead of adhering to generic guides."
27 Look for relationships
"Illustration-based type design falls into two camps: those designs that are a full-blown alphabet for multiple commercial use, and those that are one-offs. For the latter, don't be afraid to create type around a sentence or a word, looking for unique relationships within the letters and hence creating something truly expressive."
28 Be hands-on
"It is essential to keep in mind that the handmade process is the main thing. Today, with all these digital processes, I think it is important to keep hold of the 'hands on' thing. I'm currently trying to design typography illustration installations, and I'm realising how much work must be put into designing even one single character or glyph. It must be done calmly and firmly."
29 Be a matchmaker
Simon Page, www.simoncpage.co.uk
"There's a fine line between making the type legible without sacrificing your design idea. When you are designing a type illustration that you know is going to be difficult to read, it can help to break the design down into some of the key letter pairs. When you realise what these key shapes are and how they influence the type's legibility, you will be able to push the boundaries."
Getting the most from your type means thinking beyond its design to your character categorisation
01 Group your fonts in style categories
"Using a font explorer and grouping my fonts in style categories, it becomes less difficult to find what I need when working with type, though we design new typefaces for almost every client we get."
02 Keep your hands to yourself
Juan Carlos Pagan
"Stealing fonts has become so ubiquitous that many tend to view it as a non-issue. If you have ever created a typeface and poured yourself into designing these forms, you can imagine how much it would suck seeing your work used all over the place by those who've decided to jack it."
03 Make postScript work for you
Thomas Phinney, www.extensis.com
"Although the Mac OS doesn't understand Windows Type 1 (PostScript) fonts, most Adobe applications do, and there's a special folder you can put the fonts in: Library/ Application Support/Adobe/Fonts."
04 Try out FontExplorer X Pro
"I have over 3000 individual typefaces, and I find using FontExplorer X Pro is the only way to work quickly and efficiently. This great piece of software keeps everything tidy and also gives creatives the ability to view fonts in a variety of ways, making choosing one for a project a lot easier."
Top type tip
"When cataloguing your typefaces in your clean and perfect archive with too many foundries and too many styles, make a mistake! Just put some crazy font inside your nice, clean folder. Then, when you have to work on a new project and you think, "I want to search a basic font inside my sans serif folder," maybe you'll find a new solution using your crazy font."
05 Maintain best practice
"Check out the free downloadable Font Management in OS X Best Practices Guide for everything you need to know about handling fonts in OS X, from your font management friends at Extensis."
06 Make Extensis Suitcase your friend
Juan Carlos Pagan
"I try to live by two fundamental rules regarding font management: do not steal fonts, and use Extensis Suitcase. Getting your hands on a font management program is really useful, especially if you're like me and buy a new face once a week; you really need something to keep your files organised."
07 Avoid toenail fonts
Adam J Evans
"I like to keep my essential fonts close to hand and not mix them up with bizarre freeware fonts that I might use once in a blue moon. When you're looking for something sleek and sexy for a business card, you don't want a typeface made up of toenails popping up in your list. There are a lot of free font management applications out there that enable you to categorise your fonts and turn certain folders on and off, so you're never overloaded with the ones you simply don't need."
08 Erase Comic Sans from your computer
"I think all designers know [to avoid] Comic Sans, but you still see it: maybe a client sends you it in an email - say 'No!' It's a font you might use in your first year of studying, but it's just not right. Your teacher should stop you there and tell you to get rid of it. I'm actually quite serious."
09 Be ruthless
"Go for quality over quantity, and be ruthless with which fonts you keep in your library. Otherwise, before you know it, you will have 600-plus fonts, despite always scrolling straight to the same five. Be proud of your small, quality font library. Further reading: 30 Essential Typefaces for a Lifetime by Imin Pao and Joshua Berger."