Font - Nmsu

Font Basics,
Usage and
Nate Daniel
The Basics
• Fonts (also called typefaces) are a
complete set of letters, numbers,
and symbols – each with a similar
• Typography is the technique of
creating fonts, as well as the study
of their creation.
• Creating fonts is a difficult
process. All of a font’s characters
(all of its letters, numbers, and
symbols) must conform to the
font’s overall style. This is often a
matter of intensive tweaking.
When the NMSU Brand
Identity Program needed
to choose a font to
represent the university’s
logo, slogans, and header
texts, they did so based on
five tonal criteria:
authentic, personal,
vibrant, first-rate, and
global. They chose a semiserif version of Rotis.
Okay, so…
Why is it important to use a good font?
Well, to be more precise…
…it’s important NOT to use a BAD font.
Because fonts communicate a lot more than just the words they form.
More Bad Fonts!
(from Douglas Bonneville’s “23 Really Bad Fonts” [])
To put it one way…
…fonts have “personalities”.
They can convey different meanings to the exact same sentence.
The left advertisement’s font definitely “fits” the advertisement better.
But why?
The Intuition Problem
• We know that some fonts are definitely better choices than
others based on intuition. Sometimes, however, it’s not so
• For example, here I’m going back to Times New Roman.
Normally, this font is a “safe” choice for everyday documents,
but its contrast to the above font (Calibri) makes for a
surprisingly jarring transition.
• Why exactly is that? Is it possible to determine the optimal
font for something in a more quantifiable manner? Do good
fonts have similar anatomical qualities?
The “Anatomy” of a Font
Changing the style of small font elements
can change the font dramatically.
Mackiewicz’s study looks at the elements of
fonts at this level to determine which
typefaces work and which ones don’t, and
also why.
The “Jagen” Test
(or so I like to call it)
• Mackiewicz chose five letters she believed could exemplify
most of the unique elements of a font: the uppercase letter
J, and the lowercase letters a, g, e, and n. We’ll call this the
“Jagen Test”.
J a g e n
• Using the Jagen test, participants were able to much more
easily pick apart what they liked or disliked about a font.
Mackiewicz’s Study
• Mackiewicz surveyed 62 undergraduate students from four different
writing classes (two freshman-level, two upper division). None of
the students had any formal experience with typography.
• The students were given 15 different font samples (shown below)
and asked to evaluate them based on simple descriptive criteria.
Mackiewicz – Study Summary
• In general, Mackiewicz found that the students’ evaluation of the
fifteen typefaces matched their “role” (i.e., their typical usage by
typographers and graphic designers). Additionally, she was able to
find a connection between font roles and their basic anatomical
• “Professional” fonts tended to have serifs, and more angular and
conservative anatomical elements. “Friendly” fonts tended to be
sans-serif, and their anatomies were creative and varied.
• Overall, she reinforced the belief that a good choice of font can
come from an observable and qualitative analysis of a font, not just
a typographer’s intuition. The study can also help typographers
more easily design fonts that are suited to specific purposes.
Relevance to
Din Magazine
• The Din logo uses a good font to communicate its purpose. The letters
are strong and bold; their radial motion blur, while not technically a
part of the font, also help to convey the chaotic “din” feel that the
magazine obviously wants to provide through its wide range (and
often subject material) of its content.
• Open Microsoft Word.
• Write a sentence. Any sentence. It can be about
anything in particular; just make sure it has an
argument of some kind.
• Copy and paste the sentence ten times on ten
different lines.
• Choose a different font for each sentence. Try to
pick fonts that are different from each other. Pick
fonts that work well. Pick fonts that really don’t
work well. Pick some that might work well under
the right circumstances. Experiment!
• Save and upload your sentence(s) to the wiki on the
page marked “font sentences”.

similar documents